Mobile abattoir could help farmers

The plan for a mobile abattoir in the Grand Forks area is ongoing.

The problem is that the lack of meat processing for cows and other animals makes it expensive for the farmers to produce meat for sale, since animals have to be transported to locations with a facility.

The Grand Forks and Boundary Regional Agriculture Society (GFBRAS) hopes to change all that by creating a mobile abattoir that could traverse the region and cut down on travel for the producer.

Patti Bevilacqua, currently a director for GFBRAS, said that the abattoir would be different because of its ability to slaughter not only cattle.

“What’s interesting about this mobile abattoir is it will be both red meat and poultry,” Bevilacqua said. “It’s a new approach, so as much as we’re learning about it, so is the government and the centre for disease control and Interior Health, and the list goes on.”

Currently, meat producers in Grand Forks would have to transport their live animals to the abattoir in Rock Creek to have them slaughtered, if they’re hoping to sell the meat, she added.

Bevilacqua said that GFBRAS has now put together the business plan for a mobile abattoir. The original plan was to have an abattoir beside the regional district landfill site to facilitate disposal, but it came up against opposition from nearby residents.

Bevilacqua said that so far, GFBRAS had secured $215,000. Of that, $150,000 came from the Meat Transition Assistance Program, another $50,000 from SITIT (Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust), $10,000 from Canadian Futures Boundary and $5,000 from the Phoenix Foundation.

Currently, GFBRAS is waiting on a grant application with Western Diversification for $140,000, which Bevilacqua said would then help secure the program.

She said that so far the project has come up against some challenges.

“It’s been a real give and take procedure; every time we take two steps forward, we take one step back,” she said. “The government, B.C. Centre for Disease Control, everyone seems to have issues that, just when we feel like we’ve made a move, we have something else to take a look at.”

Doug Zorn, who is now taking a break from the project, initiated the abattoir concept.

Bevilacqua added that there is the potential to put together meat producer infrastructure that would include a cut and wrap facility and transport network, which together with the Kettle Valley Food Co-op, could help to secure a local produce stream to the Boundary region.

The ability for farmers to slaughter and sell their own meat was effectively stopped when meat laws changes in 2007.

After that time meat had to be inspected by a government health inspector and processed at an abattoir.