Changes made last month by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries to streamline and improve the meat licensing regulations is welcome news for the BC Chamber of Commerce. Last month, the ministry announced a series of changes that will make significant improvements for local operators who focus on production and processing of livestock raised in their communities.
Of the changes announced by the ministry, the transition of region-specific licenses D and E to the provincial wide “Farmgate Plus” license and the adoption of a risk-based approach to inspection were the focal points of the policy recommendations the BC Chamber of Commerce made to government in 2018.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and these improvements will increase flexibility and offer opportunities for local businesses to meet customer demand and to grow, while still maintaining the high standards that British Columbians expect,” said Fiona Famulak, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. “Our policy development process is a grassroots-driven process that is second to none. This announcement is a policy win that demonstrates that the work we do in partnership with our members to develop and champion policies works and delivers real improvements for small businesses and consumers in every corner of the province.”
“Of the challenges facing our food supply system, making it easier to have locally sourced meats in neighbourhood grocery stores makes sense. Our Chamber has long advocated for a practical meat licensing system – one that supports farms, reduces environmental impacts and contributes to healthier communities,” said Andrew Laird, Past President of the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce. “With these changes we can finally bring home the bacon and get access to local markets that our small-scale producers need to succeed.”
“We are happy to see changes that reduce the bottlenecks in the slaughter industry and create opportunities for local butchers and the meat cut and wrap businesses,” added Steve Meggait of Fresh Valley Farms.
Under the previous licensing system, producers holding licenses D and E were constrained to selling within their region only. In some regions, the licenses were not available, and caused several operators to downsize their operations or close completely.