Cattle graze on the Chilcotin Plateau. B.C.’s shortage of large and small-scale slaughter and processing faciliities has been a chronic issue for B.C. governments. (Rafter 25 Ranch photo)

Cattle graze on the Chilcotin Plateau. B.C.’s shortage of large and small-scale slaughter and processing faciliities has been a chronic issue for B.C. governments. (Rafter 25 Ranch photo)

B.C. struggles with local food production in COVID-19 pandemic

Farmers need small-scale sales for meat, vegetable, critic says

COVID-19 outbreaks at huge beef processing facilities in Alberta have highlighted a long-standing problem for B.C. farmers and ranchers, the lack of approved slaughter facilities for beef and other livestock on or close to their farms.

In debate on the agriculture ministry’s $77 million operating budget, B.C. Liberal agriculture critic Ian Paton described B.C. farms and ranches with empty fenced areas. He described a lack of small-scale options for meat and vegetable producers, and called for more processing licences and inspections.

“All you need to do is fly over this province and look down at small farms everywhere in B.C., and the livestock are gone,” Paton told the legislature. “They used to be there, but there’s no livestock inside the fences any more. What we’ve shown is that 4,000 head of cattle a day being killed at a plant in Alberta – or two or three plants in Alberta and across Canada – is a little bit susceptible.”

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said there is progress on the horizon on food security and expansion of slaughter capacity in B.C.

“We’ve been working, over the last three years, with the B.C. Cattlemens’ Association to try and figure out a larger way to address larger-scale slaughter in the province,” Popham said. “I’d say we’re getting pretty close to being able to see something new happen. It will offer a larger-scale capacity for beef, red meat slaughter. But it’s also going to give us the capacity to be able to market our own domestic meat within our province as raised and slaughtered here fully.”

RELATED: Ranchers call for input on Indigenous land talks

RELATED: Ottawa to buy surplus from agrifood producers

Paton introduced a private member’s bill this week, calling for an increase in farm-based processing and sales, not just for beef, poultry and other livestock but vegetables as well.

“If you’re a farmer, you can grow all of the Brussels sprouts and potatoes and whatever in the world, but if you don’t have a processing plant nearby to sell that product to, nobody is going to grow it,” Paton said. “The same with beef and poultry. If you don’t have an abattoir or butcher nearby, why would you bother getting into the production of some beef cattle or chickens or turkeys or hogs or whatever? So we need to get more licences out in B.C.”

Popham was also asked about progress in getting B.C. food onto the menus of hospitals in the province, which she pushed for as critic and has worked on for three years as minister with a program called Feed B.C.

Popham said work began with Interior Health, starting with an expanded greenhouse operation to supply Penticton Regional Hospital. The hospital has also switched to B.C. eggs.

All of the other B.C. health authorities are getting ready to join the Feed B.C. program, and announcements are coming soon, Popham said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gurinder Mann. (Submitted photo)
Surrey man receives prestigious restorative justice award

East Newton resident Gurinder Mann one of five to receive a Community Safety and Crime Prevention Award

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service looking to hire in-house lawyer

Solicitor to work within Office of the Chief Constable, serve on internal and external committees to ‘represent the SPS’s interests’

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Tyler Tardi will serve as a fifth on Team Laycock at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tyler Tardi to serve as alternate for B.C. team at Brier

Langley/Cloverdale curler to serve as ‘fifth’ on Team Laycock at Calgary-hosted championships

Surrey RCMP say that after checking on a “semi-conscious” driver in Whalley on Jan. 20, 2021, officers found about 21 grams of suspected cocaine, 68 grams of suspected fentanyl, about $1,400 in case, a stolen shotgun and ammunition. (Photo: Surrey RCMP handout)
Surrey RCMP say ‘semi-conscious’ driver found with drugs, gun

Officer saw ‘open alcohol and suspected drugs’ inside the vehicle, police say

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Competitors make their way through the course at the 2019 Canadian Cross Country Championships, which was hosted by Abbotsford in 2019. (File photo)
Abbotsford to host 2023 Canadian Cross Country Championships

Clearbrook Park last hosted the event in 2019, Ottawa hosting 2021 and 2022 races

Most Read