More than 15 years after Ottawa imposed new health regulations on meat sales due to international concern over bovine encephalitis and avian influenza, the B.C. government has launched a new licensing system for selling beef, poultry, pork and other meats from the farms where they were raised.
The province has created a new farmgate licence for new and small-scale producers to sell within their own regional district, or within 50 km if they live near a district border. The licences will be for a five-year term effective Oct. 1, 2021, limited to sales of 2,268 kg (5,000 lb) of meat per year to individuals and restaurants.
“B.C. restaurants and chefs are always looking for the opportunity to put more local meat options on their menu,” said Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association. “These new regulations will provide new opportunities for local restaurants and small businesses and help grow local economies in B.C. communities.”
A new “farmgate plus” licence is being introduced for larger-scale producers, permitting up to 11,340 kg (25,000 lb) per year. Current class D and E licence holders will transition to these licences. Class A and B licences are switching to a new abbatoir licence that provides for fully inspected slaughter that meets federal requirements for commercial sales within the province.
Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said the province has worked with ranchers, abbatoir operators and health authorities to increase the amount of locally raised meat in rural communities. That includes the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association, which started as a Facebook group of about 75 B.C. farmers and then registered as a non-profit society of farmers and ranchers raising meat outside of the conventional, industrial system.
The agriculture ministry also announced this week that it has expanded local food supply to hospitals in Greater Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. Suppliers to Island Health now include eggs from Golden Valley in Abbotsford, baked goods from Canada Bread in Langley and milk products from Dairyland in the Lower Mainland.
An Island Health pilot project is supplying fresh vegetables to long-term care facilities in Chemainus, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Cumberland and Campbell River.