Investing in a new abattoir in Merrit is part of the support the B.C. government is providing to that community.
The provincial government is providing a $1 million grant to the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association for the construction of a government-inspected licensed facility. The abattoir will provide meat processing and cut-and-wrap services to local farmers and ranchers.
This new processing facility will help keep local farms from folding, said Julia Smith, executive director of the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association and a beef and pork producer from Merritt.
“It is literally the difference between a lot of farms and ranches making it or not,” she told Farms.com. “Especially in this community where the floods and wildfires affected our ranchers directly. We need to do better than just scraping by.”
Finishing animals is crucial for producers, Smith says.
The new abattoir will process about 20 animals per week, including beef, pork and game.
This means local ranchers may not have to rely on larger processors.
The floods cause transportation delays, which means producers were left livestock backlogs, and customers experienced food shortages.
“Our highways shut down,” Smith says. “That can happen in any year, but that means we have cows and pigs that need to go for processing, and that backlog causes empty grocery store shelves. I think the most recent events really have people thinking about a valuing local food security.”
In addition, the difference in what a rancher makes between selling an animal in the fall and finishing the animal and marketing it directly can be significant.
“You can be talking upwards of $1,000 (per animal) after all costs,” she said. “It truly is a game changer for a lot of producers in this region.”
Not only will the abattoir help the local ag sector, but the community of Merritt as a whole.
As the community rebuilds and re-establishes itself, Merrit can be confident in a local food supply.
“It’s crazy that you can’t buy local beef in this community,” Smith said. “I’m excited that we’ll be able to provide this important nutrient source to the people of Merritt.
Smith is in the process of submitting another grant application.
This one is through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Local Food Infrastructure Fund, a five-year, $60 million initiative ending on March 31, 2024.
The fund “is aimed at community-based, not-for-profit organizations with a mission to reduce food insecurity by establishing and strengthening their local food system.”
Smith’s application is for the equipment to operate the abattoir.
“We hope to use the money for the coolers and freezers for the abattoir,” she said. “One million dollars sounds like a lot but in the grand scheme of things for a project like this, it’s not that much.”
Par: Diego Flammini (12/07/2022)
Photo: tirée de l'article original