Work continues on plans to develop a regional slaughterhouse for producers in the B.C. Peace.
The Small-Scale Meat Producers Association is looking to build an on-farm red-meat abattoir in the North Peace to support its members in the region, and provide a place for the initial processing of beef, pork, and sheep.
The association hopes to meet and grow demand for locally-raised meat as the province launches a new licensing system making it easier for small producers to sell from their farmgate or at farmers markets, retail shops, and restaurants starting Oct. 1.
"We know that this is needed in the Peace and so we're taking this opportunity to build a solution that will help farmers and ranchers in the Peace that can also be duplicated," said President Julia Smith. "We're going to put money into design and solving all the problems, and making sure it meets all the regulatory requirements. That will all be open source."
Around $130,000 has gone into the project so far, which is still in the design phase, and the association is seeking a grant from BC Hydro's Site C agricultural fund to begin building the project. This week, the Peace River Regional District's Electoral Area Directors Committee voted to write a letter of support for the association's funding application.
In a letter to the PRRD, association board member and local rancher Michelle Schaeffer noted that a recent study found consumer interest in local meat is increasing demand for slaughter and processing services in the B.C., but consistent supply and co-ordinating the supply value chain remain challenges.
Schaeffer noted the association plans to support existing cut-and-wrap businesses in the region by limiting the project to “kill and chill” while continuing to divert meat carcasses to them for further processing. The long-term vision, however, is to build infrastructure that could include a cut-and-wrap component, she noted.
“The project benefits will not be limited to the Peace; access to the plans we develop and support for others to build more units will be provided at large once we complete this initial project,” Schaeffer wrote. “Regional extension events are planned to tour the unit and provide opportunities for mock-demonstrations and trails for education and awareness purposes.”
Smith added the facility could also be used for demonstrations and training.
"With the new regulations, there's a lot of people who have questions or need training. So there's an opportunity to educate other producers and show them what's possible, show them a humane slaughter and be a prototype demonstration," Smith said.
Tom Summer, Alaska Highway News, Local Journalism Initiative. Email Tom at email@example.com