Media Release: New Insurance Options for Small-Scale Meat Producers & Processors
Merritt, BC – There is an insurance crisis in the small-scale farm industry in BC. Access to insurance was listed as one of the top challenges for producers in the Small-Scale Meat Producers Industry Survey Report, published in 2022, which found that rates for insurable farms were often so high as to render them uninsurable for all intents and purposes. Frequently, insurance was not available at all, particularly for on-farm slaughter.
Changes to meat processing regulation in October 2021 brought new opportunities for farmers and ranchers to slaughter their animals on-farm. The Farmgate and Farmgate Plus licence program includes training and oversight by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Meat Inspection Branch. However, many new Farmgate licence holders received notifications of their insurance providers terminating their coverage without alternative after obtaining a Farmgate slaughter license.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food developed these new regulations after 4 years of consultations with primary consideration being made for the health and safety of our food system. A 2009 Risk Assessment obtained by SSMPA through a Freedom of Information request, clearly demonstrated the safety of this activity.
“It is unreasonable that a legal, licenseable, safe part of our food system should be so difficult to insure. Processing and selling meat without insurance is undesirable for both producers and consumers and for the industry as a whole” says Julia Smith, Executive Director of SSMPA.
For the past two years, SSMPA has endeavoured to work with the insurance industry to develop an insurance package that will include coverage for Farmgate licensees. SSMPA undertook a new survey in early 2023 in order to better quantify and understand the barriers producers are facing with regards to insurance and what could be done to address these challenges. Through surveys and focus groups, SSMPA identified a gap in understanding between producers and insurance companies regarding the risks associated with running on-farm slaughter operations that urgently needed to be addressed.
BFL Canada Risk & Insurance Services Inc. was interested in exploring this disconnect and worked with the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association and Peace Hills Insurance to bridge that gap to come up with a solution for the sector including Farmgate licensees and other small abattoirs and cut and wrap shops. “I’m thrilled to be able to offer this comprehensive package with discounted commercial liability rates for SSMPA members including tailored coverage options for farm assets and liability that are unique to small-scale meat Producers,” said Small-Scale Meat Producer preferred broker Crystal Piggott.
SSMPA member, Fresh Valley Farms, near Armstrong was having difficulties finding an insurer for their business which includes an inspected poultry abattoir, and cut and wrap shop. BFL was able to offer them the comprehensive package they needed at an affordable rate.
“Crystal was efficient to work with, understood the agricultural sector, and communicated promptly and with clarity. She got us the insurance that we needed and wanted to help our business grow” said Annelise Grube-Cavers of Fresh Valley Farms.
Raquel Kokof of Hough Heritage Farm in Gibsons BC had been told by her insurance provider that they could not find coverage for any on-farm slaughter operation.
“I am elated at the news of SSMPA once again coming through with tangible support for BC’s small scale meat producers. As a Farmgate plus licence holder, having comprehensive farm insurance for on-farm slaughter and butchering means I can continue to run my farm business that provides nutrient dense meat to my community. By providing essential insurance options, SSMPA is enabling small scale meat producers to increase the production of ethical and sustainably produced meat throughout the province and thereby giving a real boost to our localized food security” she said.
The Small-Scale Meat Producers Association is accepting new memberships and renewals for 2023/24 on their website, www.smallscalemeat.ca.
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The Small-Scale Meat Producers Association represents British Columbia farmers and ranchers who are raising meat outside of the conventional, industrial system. We are a registered non-profit society made up of primary-producers, meat processing professionals and supportive individuals and organizations. Our mission is to build greater stability and growth opportunities for small-scale meat producers in British Columbia.