In a meeting with Ministry of Agriculture staff on March 25th, the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association was informed of some new policies and regulations that will help producers by opening up more slaughter options and marketing opportunities. While there is a high degree of confidence that these proposed changes will be accepted by cabinet, they do still need to be approved.
The Ministry is proposing to refresh and simplify the current licensing categories.
An “Entry Level” category will allow producers to slaughter up to 5AU (an animal unit is 1000lbs) a year on-farm. The meat processed through this license may be sold within the operator’s regional district and within a 50km radius of their farm.
The “Mid-Range” category will allow producers to slaughter up to 25AU and essentially replaces the current Class E and D licenses. This license will be available in all areas of the province and the meat processed through this license can be sold anywhere in the province through retail, restaurants and farmers markets. Due to the volume of production and expanded market opportunities, there will be more inspections than producers have previously experienced when oversight of on-farm slaughter was under the jurisdiction of the regional health authorities.
With both categories of On-Farm Slaughter License, the operator must complete the new “Slaughter Right” training program and have an approved food safety plan in place. There will be a premises inspection required on an annual basis with additional inspections possible based on assessed risk. Cut and wrap must still take place at a licensed facility and unless the producer is located more than one hour from a provincially inspected abattoir, an explanation of why the inspected facility is not able to meet the needs of the producer must be provided.
Inspected “A” and “B” Abattoirs will fall under one single abattoir license and will not have any processing volume restrictions.
We are expecting cabinet approval of the new policies and regulations this summer and for producers to be able to be operating under the new licenses by this fall.
The Small-Scale Meat Producers Association has been working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture since 2018 to build greater stability and growth opportunities for small-scale meat producers in British Columbia. We are happy with the proposed changes and think they will help to alleviate some of the bottlenecks and lost revenue opportunities producers are currently experiencing. We will continue to work with the Ministry and other industry associations to create more opportunities for producers who want to expand beyond the current 25AU limits but not into a full scale inspected abattoir. We believe that it is within this area that the greatest opportunity lies to build a thriving small-scale meat industry that supports farmers and contributes in a significant way to food security in BC by offering well-raised, high-quality meat to BC markets.
Update July 20, 2021: The BC government has now legislated the regulatory changes described above. These come into effect October 1, 2021. See the government press release and licensing website for more information.