As Canada enters its fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, meat processors continue to struggle with virus transmission among employees. Reported custom order cancellations and lower staff numbers exacerbate the ongoing capacity crunch small-scale producers face.
While no new outbreaks have been declared at Lower Mainland abattoirs or meat-packing facilities since an outbreak at the Sunrise Poultry plant in Surrey in May, several plants have reported lower staffing as a result of positive COVID-19 tests.
In addition, wildfires in the Interior are impacting capacity.
Opening of the new BC Beef plant in Westwold, for example, was put on hold as a result of an evacuation order for the White Rock Lake fire. Red meat slaughter at existing provincially inspected plants was down 36% province-wide in August.
The wildfires have also prompted the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association to extended the deadline for participation in a survey to gauge the issues smaller producers face in accessing meat processing services. Producers can now submit their surveys until September 10.
SSMPA is asking every livestock producer who sells any portion of his or her meat directly to consumers to complete a 15-minute survey, to help the association capture the size of this sector and the barriers producers face. The survey is available at [smallscalemeat.ca/survey] or by calling (250) 999-0296.