While one local farm continues to gather support for on farm slaughtering of their animals with a Class E licence, the owner says the issue is separate from abattoirs, which are an important entity in the farming community.
Karen Persson, from G&K Persson Farms in Golden, has been collecting letters of support for her application of a Class E licence.
The licence guidelines show that there are two different types of designation in the province. The designated areas are mostly located in western and northern rural areas, and non-designated areas are around southern and interior areas, where Golden is located.
The nearest abattoir, or slaughtering facility, is the Columbia Valley Abattoir, located near Invermere. In the licence application, there are a few considerations that make applications more favourable, including a drive longer than two hours to the nearest abattoir.
While the drive from Persson’s farm is less than the two hour requirement, she stands by her desire to obtain a Class E licence.
The Columbia Valley Abattoir opened in March of 2017, and was built by the Windermere District Farmer’s Institute (WDFI).
“We built our abattoir because we want to make sure our farmers have a chance for marketing livestock,” explained WDFI projects coordinator Heidi Trescher, adding that the facility cost more than $650,000 to comply with the regulations required.
Grant Kelly, owner of Columbia Valley Meat and Sausage Co., is the lease operator of the abattoir.
“We kind of butcher once a week most of the time… We have capacity way over what we’re doing,” explained Trescher, adding that there is no waiting list for butchering.
Kelly explained that running the abattoir is a lot like any other kind of business. Recently, he closed his meat and sausage business to focus more on the abattoir.
“I grew up on a small farm. That’s why I gave up my store, and so I can focus my interests on this,” he explained. “I have a concern for local food. Anyone who has kids these days are interested in good local food.”
That’s why Kelly says his facility is clean and properly taken care of.
He says he doesn’t end up slaughtering every week, if there isn’t a minimum amount of animals to do in a day. In order to slaughter and butcher an animal, he needs to bring in workers to set up and clean up, adding hours onto the day, and the inspector needs to travel hours from Cranbrook while operations are running.
“The inspector is here before, during, and after. Everything is done so it’s clean, including the form of animal welfare,” he explained.
His working season is beginning to ramp up, and he expects he will get busy this week for the next two months.
“It’s just going to be busy. In the summer I will be busy doing other thing, making sausage, and selling product, and helping farmers get themselves to markets, help them with labelling,” he said. “My priority has to be farmers first and foremost. If you call me the day before and I already have the maximum… I’ll say sorry, I can’t.”
The abattoirs in B.C. slaughter the meat and butcher it, allowing for all different types of uses, including commercial sales from restaurants to farmer’s markets.
Persson says she just wants to slaughter animals on her farm for personal use. The Class E licence would allow her to kill up to 10 animal units per year, for personal use and sale from her farm.
“Almost all the farmers in B.C. that I know of realize and see the need that A and B licenced abattoirs are necessary, just as much as the D and E licenced facilities are,” Persson explained.
She will provide the government with all of the information she has to apply for the Class E licence.
Right now, she is gathering letters of support to send to the Ministry of Agriculture and members of parliament. Persson disagreed with the designated and non-designated areas as outlined by the province.
She says that farmers with a lot of livestock will want to use an abattoir for their slaughters, but she would like to see smaller farms have the opportunity to kill their own animals on their location.
“I don’t know who came up with this idea in B.C., and it really is quite prejudiced to start with.”