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Thread: Meat

  1. #11
    Dennis Lapierre
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    I don't know if you've looked here: http://www.bcfpa.ca/programs/meat-in...ement-strategy
    It's the BC Food Processor's Association web page on the matter.
    But also look here: http://www.bccdc.ca/NR/rdonlyres/161...WEBVERSION.pdf
    On page 7, you'll see a number of sites in Powell River that have transitional Class "C" status. That's fairly new. Bill, who has posted on this site might have more information to offer, but I believe this is part of an effort to accommodate remote sites.
    The real source on this is Kathlene Gibson, who has been contracted for some time on this transition matter. She can be reached through the BCFPA.

  2. #12
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    There actually are some solutions under serious consideration.
    Three selected "remote" communities are without economic access to an abattoir and so have no legal alternative but to go out of business. (Queen Charlottes, Powell River and Lasqueti and Bella Coola) They are working with a Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport initiative to try to find a way to keep the accountability and traceability the regulations require while still permitting a degree of on-farm slaughter for re-sale without impacting the business case of licensed facilities in major centres where the considerable investment has been made to comply with the regulations.
    Talks are on-going. We will keep you posted.
    It should be noted these farms are small diversified units addressing local markets with no interest in or possibility of reaching commodity processors.

    Another recent initiative is this study from Salt Spring Island: http://www.agridigest.com/LivestockProductionStudy.PDF which identifies reduced production resulting in part from the regulations.

    Something must change. The best we can do is to keep the issue visible and obvious by talking publicly and encouraging letters to MLAs and cabinet ministers. The considerations of the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport will come to a decision within the next month so it will be very helpful to fill their inboxes with real life impacts and underscore that the farmers most impacted are those who have no possibility of reaching a currently licensed facility because their small communities cannot support a business case for one within an economically feasible distance.

    Additionally it is important to note that local farmers cannot make a substantial and on-going contribution to food security in "remote" areas if their product must be stamped "Not For Resale". We need to be part of the local community, not side-lined. For that to be possible we must process very precisely and support a degree of inspection and sampling. We know our product is clean but we need to prove it.

  3. #13
    Dennis Lapierre
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    You will all be please to know that the Meat Regulations have been added to the 2010 BCAC priorities list. In speaking to the upcoming priorities for the year, I was please to hear the BCAC Chair, Garnet Etsell refer to the regulations and their impact as "a mess" in front of the Country Life editor.

  4. #14

    Mess is a polite way of putting it. I've been calling it a clusterbollocks myself
    Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.

    Mahatma Gandhi

  5. #15
    Dennis Lapierre
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    Peggy,

    I was able to use your situation as a key example of what "the mess" is, and its ramifications. So, it's at least had some value.

  6. #16
    Dennis Lapierre
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    Has everyone seen the changes to the Regulations? They were announced Friday, April 23. There are several pages to the Ministry website explaining the changes. You can find them at http://www.hls.gov.bc.ca/protect/meat-regulation

  7. #17
    Dennis Lapierre
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    The following are copy and pasted from the COABC listserve. It consists of questions and answers in a few postings. They are quite informative.

    From: Wayne Osborne [mailtomegabluefarms@gmail.com]
    Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 8:00 AM
    To: Rochelle
    Cc: COABC listserve
    Subject: [coabc_list] meat inspection



    Has anyone had a chance to look deeper into the new class D and E meat inspection licenses. Any idea on the infrastructure requirements for each license?



    On the surface, the regulations are getting very close to satisfying their constitutional shortcomings. Without knowing the details on the infrastructure requirements, the regional restrictions seem to be their only real shortfall now. It appears they have left the door open to remedy this and if not, they have certainly made a constitutional challange that much easier.
    I would be interested in the thoughts of others who have looked deeper into the amended regulation.
    Wayne Osborne


    As part of the consulting farmers group helping to develop the changes I, for one, am satisfied the changes accomplish what they were intended to accomplish.

    We in “remote” communities were originally forbidden to slaughter our annual production only because our population base/production base would not support a licensed abattoir. Now we are able to slaughter for whichever market level we choose. This is the fundamental we needed.


    (Just for clarity: There is no doubt the rules as originally written forbade us to slaughter without a licensed inspector in a licensed facility. In our case, and many others, the closest plant was a minimum of 20 hours away. For our purposes this is effectively “forbidden”, practically and economically.)

    There are limitations and restrictions: we need to prove we know what we are doing; our working standards and slaughter site, even if just our fields, must be clean and we must meet basic standards like chilling and keeping the flies away. We prove this by being open to periodic inspection by Environmental Health Officers (EHOs).



    There are a lot of variables still to be worked out:

    -The changes (and the original MIR changes introduced in 2004) deal only with slaughter. We still need to meet the standards of the Food Safety Act regarding cutting and wrapping our product for our customers (if we should choose to cut and wrap) since our low population bases also means there are no butcher shops within economic reach.

    -Details of the licensing process are still to be worked out. As a start we are holding some basic slaughter training seminars in hopes of raising the bar a bit in order to lessen the chance of mistakes.

    -The different licenses are applicable in different areas and will change as we prove them workable and don’t make mistakes. As Wayne said the regulation changes leave this door ajar.



    As we continue to work out the many details we must be aware the ball is very much in the Farmer’s court. We achieved these changes by proving we were careful and competent and willing to back these assertions by taking on the liability of processing our own animals, just as we always have. We must continue to be just as diligent and careful as we have been since the advent of agriculture.

    When we challenge that we have never made anyone sick before the response is always the same: “Well, those types of illness aren’t usually reported.”. (Kind of leaves Maple Leaf a bit in the open, doesn’t it?) We can imagine they will be a little better tracked now. Just one case may put us all back at square one.

    There are a lot of watchdogs! Not just the EHOs but also the industry groups who have invested heavily in meeting the new standards with large, modern factories and in so doing have won the unwavering sympathy of all those who accept ‘investment’ must never be threatened by government.

    Thanks for opening this discussion, Wayne. It is very important we all work with the facts in discussing the many variables. In answer to your specific question, the new regulations put the onus on the farmer to ensure basic requirements are met. The EHOs will take carcass temperatures to ensure our chilling is adequate but how we chill is up to us as long as we meet basic cleanliness requirements. There are no infrastructure requirements in the regulations but it is implicit our end product must be clean, free of flies and thoroughly chilled.

    Most of all, our market is our neighbours and we are always in plain view.

    Bill Mackay
    Tlell

    From: farm@kakwaecovillage.com [mailto:farm@kakwaecovillage.com]
    Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 11:24 AM
    To: 'Bill Mackay'; 'Wayne Osborne'; 'Rochelle'
    Cc: 'COABC listserve'
    Subject: RE: [coabc_list] meat inspection

    Hi Bill,
    Glad your area was specifically helped. For much of the rest of the Province in “Non-Designated Areas” it is not clear what the objective criteria are for obtaining a Class “D” license.
    Russ
    Kakwa Ecovillage Cooperative


    Good point, Russ. The “objective criteria” are still to be developed. No licenses have been issued yet.

    Our group consultations are on-going and I would appreciate hearing anyone’s concerns in order to carry them to our next conference.

    During the entire process there were a number of realities we needed to work with:

    -We needed to acknowledge there was a strong lobby voice for simple farm gate sales. This group was not concerned about the required “Not For Resale” stamp. Hence the “E” license.

    -We needed to acknowledge a number of people heeded the government’s assertion “There will be no exceptions!” Many of these invested heavily in processing facilities in anticipation of a large user base while others changed their business plan to accommodate the need to reach distant plants. One of the thoughts behind the new MIR was to encourage the establishment of more licensed facilities in the Province. These investments needed to be protected. Hence, part of the reason for the greater restrictions on the “D” licenses. It is simply a recognition there are places in the Province where neither the population base nor the production base will support a dedicated, licensed facility as a stand-alone business.

    -We recognized life was different in these “remote” areas than it is in population centres. The economy works differently, too. Farmers (meaning community agriculture rather than industrial agriculture which, by definition, requires ready access to transport infrastructure) need to be part of this economy in order to avoid marginalization. Therefore the “Not For Resale” stamp was unacceptable to many of us.

    What criteria might be appropriate for D licenses?

    Bill

    ...more in next posting

  8. #18
    Dennis Lapierre
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    I believe part of what Bill explains here is what the North Okanagan Regional District is seeking answers to. Certainly it is the prerogative of government to spend taxpayers money to stimulate enterprise and hence, the economy. It does that all the time. But, is government entitled to essentially issue franchises using taxpayers money such that others are excluded the opportunity to even spend their own money and compete?

    Depending on the commodity, other parts of the province have the same problems. Small poultry flocks and the availability of processors for that commodity being the obvious example. Similarly, what I'm seeing even in areas where there are local abbatoirs is pricing influenced by a lack of competition. In this area, for instance, lamb slaughter and processing is $70.00 minimum while the same service in Prince George is $55.00.

    Dennis

    Great information. Who is putting on the training seminars? These first ones are sponsored by Farmer’s Institutes. They are not part of the requirement for licenses; just for information to meet local needs.

    What kind of monitoring plan is there? There is no plan yet other than notification we are open to inspection at any time and the inspectors are able to ticket us. The EHO’s have the ability to take samples, as they usually do and video cameras have been discussed but rejected so far.

    Will it be purely reactive (that is, complaint based) or will the EHO's be taking samples from time to time to check for the presence of disease, etc.? It is definitely not designed to be reactive, but pro-active in that all the onus is on the farmer to not make his neighbours sick. The inspection process is to be results-based meaning, for example, as long as the carcass temperature is lowered in the required amount of time to the required point and kept there, the inspector doesn’t care how it is done.

    Do you see your area as being sort of a pilot site that, if things prove acceptable, will result in the licensing expanding to other parts of the province? Have you been given some indication of that by anyone? The new regulations suggest “E” licenses may be extended but also don’t say “D” licenses will not be extended to different areas. Given the criteria we worked within I would think it less likely D licenses will be extended than E licenses. Further to that, one of the criteria Cabinet looked at was risk mitigation. As long as we prove we meet basic standards and our product is fully traceable, the impact of contaminated meat from our processes is small because of our small market base/small population. Note we are not permitted to sell outside of our Regional District. We are clearly a pilot for the “E” license, though, but there is no timeline for extension.

    Depending on the commodity, other parts of the province have the same problems. Small poultry flocks and the availability of processors for that commodity being the obvious example. Similarly, what I'm seeing even in areas where there are local abbatoirs is pricing influenced by a lack of competition. In this area, for instance, lamb slaughter and processing is $70.00 minimum while the same service in Prince George is $55.00. This point has been expressed many times and is very valid. It is the main reason for the MIES working group distributing some $11 million to help get plants up and running. Another aspect of it is that there are many licensed plants some farmers say they would never take their animals to. My only thought at this point is that after the dust settles there is business opportunity for someone. I also think better monitoring of existing plant processes would help but of course nobody wants to go there. Open to any suggestions.

    One other issue along these lines is that of “convenience”, a very difficult word to generally define. For some farmers just the fact they loose control over their animal when it enters the plant is enough to rule out a plant. For others the need to transport at all is prohibitive while others draw the line at two hours. I think it is a given that few farmers would slaughter and process their own animals if they did not feel it was necessary for some reason. Many times that reason is “trust”. The bottom line is that these plants must constantly deal with E-coli contamination from feces. On the farm, if I were to contaminate a carcass with feces I would bury it. Therefore I take every possible precaution to prevent fecal contamination including spending unreasonable amounts of time that are simply not available to a butcher in a licensed facility.

    (Reference to the question about the legality of all of this)
    The other side of this is to recognize some parts of the province just don’t have the population/production or the infrastructure to make a business case for a slaughter facility to exist as a stand-alone business. Farmers in those parts of the province were put out of business by the new meat industry regulations of 2004, using taxpayer’s money. Witness what is happening in Telkwa today.

    We are denied a “franchise” by choosing to live in a part of the province where there is no facility that meets the new regulations when in reality we have operated here successfully for over a hundred years; since the same government used taxpayer’s dollars to stimulate the establishment of agriculture here.

    Continuing down this same road leads inevitably to the same old issue: why should the Province build a bridge to the North Shore when the people living there made the choice all by themselves to live there and now want they want Province’s taxpayers to bale them out?

    Another aspect is that because we live in these remote areas our market area is also very restricted. Note the regulations also say we must not sell outside of our designated area. Given this, the impact of our screw-ups will be very limited and easily traceable. They called it risk analysis. Our permissible slaughter volume is also very restricted both by this regulation and by the commodity group’s legislation.

    If we screw up in these designated areas we will make our neighbours sick. Our neighbours are our only market and they are always watching. Where would we go then?

    Maybe that’s when farmers go fishing or logging and big meat plants move their production to Montreal or Nairobi.

    Bill

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