New Meat Processing Facility for the Nicola Valley
Photo Description: SSMPA President, Tristan Banwell, Merritt Mayor Linda Brown, SSMPA Executive Director Julia Smith and MLA/Parliamentary Secretary Rolly Russell met at Historic Collett Ranch in Merritt to discuss the project. Photo Credit Marius Auer/Merritt Herald
Merritt, BC – After the heat domes, fires and floods of 2021 and ongoing feed shortages, and skyrocketing costs, farmers and ranchers in the Nicola Valley are ready for some good news. The Small-Scale Meat Producers Association is thrilled to announce that it will be building a much needed abattoir in the community thanks to $1,000,000 in funding provided by the Province of British Columbia under the Community Economic Infrastructure Recovery Program.
“This project represents significant job and economic opportunities for the region while ensuring local ranches, abattoirs and businesses are part of a strong, resilient B.C. food system,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “With the recent changes to B.C.’s meat licensing system and investments in facilities like the Nicola Valley community abattoir, this revitalization of the small-scale meat industry makes it easier to produce, buy and sell B.C. meat in our rural communities, and helps strengthen our food security and food resiliency.”
The Nicola Valley Community Abattoir will provide custom slaughter and cut and wrap services to local farmers and ranchers. Consumer demand for local meat has been growing steadily with demand higher than ever since the COVID-19 crisis and supply chain disruptions. This project represents an outstanding opportunity to revitalize the local economy through the growth and development of the small-scale meat industry.
“My partner and I moved to the Nicola Valley in 2016 planning to expand our business to meet the growing demand for well-raised, local meat. But we soon found that the processors we relied upon were not able to keep up with our production and we had to scale the business back instead of growing it,” said Julia Smith, Merritt farmer and Executive Director of the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association. “We were on the verge of giving up. But now we are ready to press on, because this facility will allow us, and other local family farms and ranches, to grow and thrive while providing greater food security for the community.”
Local farmers and ranchers are currently hamstrung by a serious lack of meat processing capacity. Most of the meat consumed in BC is not produced here. Local cattle producers ship their calves/yearlings to be finished in feedlots in Alberta, giving up a sizable profit to foreign owned conglomerates. There are almost no commercial pork or lamb producers in the region and the few that do exist have been unable to scale their businesses to a profitable size due entirely to bottlenecks at the abattoirs.
The Nicola Valley community abattoir will be a first-class facility that will produce the highest quality meat and value added products for BC consumers while creating numerous employment opportunities and food security for the local community. It will also enable local farmers and ranchers to grow their businesses and create greater opportunities to maximize profit.
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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 as well as supportive individuals and organizations.
Media Contact: Julia Smith [email protected], 604-780-5262