A newer, simpler licensing system is on the horizon for BC abattoirs.
During a meeting with the Small-Scale Livestock Producers Association on March 25, the province revealed that provincially inspected abattoirs (currently holding Class A and B licences) will be consolidated within a single licence class.
On-farm slaughter will be allowed across the province, unlike the current system that limits Class D and E licences to specific areas, and enjoy broader market opportunities than currently exist. Two on-farm slaughter categories will exist: one allowing slaughter of up to 25 animal units (25,000 pounds) and off-farm sales anywhere in the province, and an entry-level licence allowing slaughter of up to five animal units (5,000 pounds) and sales within 50km of the licensee as well as within the licensee’s regional district.
All licensees must take the new SlaughterRight training course, launched in February as one of the first key changes following consolidation of meat inspection under the BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. All facilities will be inspected at least once a year, with more frequent inspections in accordance with assessed risk.
The changes come after three years of consultation on rural slaughter modernization by the province. BC agriculture minister Lana Popham told an industry meeting that she expected to announce the changes in March, but a formal announcement has yet to occur.
The changes will have to be approved by the legislature, which begins its second sitting on April 12. The necessary amendments will likely be introduced at that time. The province aims to have the changes in place by this fall, enabling producers to process animals rather than hold them over the winter as many were forced to do this past year.
“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,” the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association said in a press release. “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.”