During its public meeting Tuesday morning in Williams Lake, Select Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fish and Food members Rachna Singh, MLA Surrey Green Timbers (left), Donna Barnett Cariboo Chilcotin MLA, Nicholas Simons MLA Powell River-Sunshine Coast and Chair Ronna-Rae Leonard chat with Rodear Meats owner David Fernie (right) who was one of seven presenters. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Agriculture, food and fish committee hears from Cariboo Chilcotin

The Select Standing Committee held a public meeting Tuesday morning, hearing from seven presenters and one person from the floor

People have attended from far afield to make presentations to the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Food and Fish, said committee chair Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA Courtney-Comox at the close of the session in Williams Lake Tuesday.

“We have been getting to hear the flavour of different communities, which is important because we are getting to talk with people from rural and remote areas,” Leonard said. “The ability for us to get to those areas is limited.”

In Williams Lake the committee heard from seven presenters that had registered in advance and one from the floor.

“As one person said today, we all know about Alberta beef but how do we get the word out there about B.C. beef,” Leonard said. “Another person talked about growing our capacity so that we support the small scale meat sector in B.C.”

The committee heard from a sheep farmer who talked about the scale of lamb production in B.C.

“We heard from people who have Class A licences, and one man who spoke about how he has a fully-integrated system and basically he raises the livestock, he slaughters it, processes it and markets it, and has restaurants in the Lower Mainland and sells it to retailers as well as in the community where he has his farm.”

Read more: Select Standing Committee on agriculture, food and fish coming to Williams Lake

David Fernie, owner of Rodear Meats in the Cariboo, made a presentation to the committee.

“I talked about the inspection system and the merits and value of an inspection system on having healthy and disease-free meat for Canadians,” Fernie said, noting he re-opened his business in December of 2017.

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett, also a member of the committee, said many people have concerns about the health of animals, abattoirs, slaughtering and the health of animals.

“Another big one is young people not getting into the market place,” Barnett said. “We need young people to go into the slaughtering and processing business, but there’s not enough training and there’s not enough year-round work.”

Barnett said there are many concerns and a few people with solutions, but there have to be measures taken so the industry isn’t killed.

“We are here to try and make local food more available but it has to be reasonable. It’s a very complex issue,” Barnett added.

Leonard said several themes have emerged through the various meetings.

“There are the challenge of rural and remote areas, where the question of getting inspections is challenging, and there are issues around animal welfare and travel,” she said.

The committee will travel to Castlegar, Cranbrook and Kamloops next and then submit a report to the government.

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