COLUMNS: Do you have a beef with the local cattle industry?

I was talking to a restaurant owner the other day and he was wondering when our local cattle industry would be able to supply food outlets.

I was talking to a restaurant owner the other day and he was wondering when our local cattle industry would be able to supply the food outlets, particularly the restaurant sector, with a consistent quality product.

Travelers regularly ask about local beer and then about local menu items. Now, we are a cattle producing region in B.C. with one of highest beef populations.

Two of our biggest beef finishers send their live beef out of the region for killing and butchering because we don’t have sufficient abattoir capacity here in the Cariboo Chilcotin, with the recent shutdown of two small abattoirs.

A third producer, Pasture to Plate at Redstone, has its own state-of-the-art facility and sends its various meat products to its own retail outlet in Vancouver.

It is not possible to get more than few head processed at the plant in 100 Mile House.

Remember the government provided the capital for a permanent site for a mobile abattoir attached to the butcher shop.

We tried to get our 15-20 head which we marketed directly once; frozen in boxes into 100 Mile House, Prince George, Kamloops, and Barrier abattoirs but were unsuccessful.

Legally, to sell meat one has to have it processed by a government inspected and licensed facility. This is the “due diligent” thing to do.

You can process your own meat for your own consumption, but not for resale.

For most people who would finish beef, taking a few head at a time for over 100 miles starts to be prohibitively costly.

A shipment of 10 or so head might be possible but then once they are market ready they have to be picked up for delivery directly to consumers.

The problem also is having the “finish” or sufficient fat cover which keeps the carcass moist, tender and tasty on a regular basis.

It is much easier to have most of your animals ready in the fall just when everyone else does and when hunters want wild game processed.

So that is one of the major challenges: timing readiness to the processing capacity and the market opportunity.

What then are some of the key steps to a solution to opportunity to provide locals and traveler with a taste of the Cariboo Chilcotin.

Collaboration between producers, processors and market outlets is a must. Joint ventures which gather ready beef for co-operative transport might help. Scaling up in numbers for economies of scale also would help.

The BC Associations of Abattoirs has pursued the objective a totally “made in B.C.” beef (and lamb) product by developing an online market where chefs and meat outlets can order beef and producers can respond and make a sales deal.

It is call BCBEEFNET.

It is a complicated puzzle to get all the pieces in place. Previous attempts at collaborations have failed essentially because of a lack of entrepreneurial capacity and will. We need more, and leadership is one of the keys.

Good marketing and willingness to pay by the consumer is a necessity.

A slight premium to support local producers would go a long ways to make it possible for local and travelers alike to say proudly that they got the best beef ever at a restaurant.

It really bothers me that we can’t refer guests to a place in Williams Lake to get a local steak. Redstone is a long ways to go, but worth it.

Our pride should motivate us to consume “local” more!

A final note: come and support the completion by students of the first year of the TRU Applied Sustainable Ranching course at the Tourism Discovery Centre on Nov. 4, with Her Honour Judith Guichon attending. Local food will be served.

David Zirnhelt is a member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association and chair of the advisory committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching program which started at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake this January.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The RCMP arrest one of the suspects on Highway 97 courtesy of cell phone footage shot by a bystander. (April Thomas photo)
WATCH: Two suspects arrested after multi-jurisdictional chase

A half dozen police cars were seen heading north on Highway 97

Commercial tenants at the Williams Lake Regional Airport have been granted an additional six-month rent reprieve. (Angie Mindus file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Continuing rent relief for Williams Lake Airport tenants considered

City council discussed the option during a committee of the whole meeting

The Grade 2 class of 150 Mile House Elementary attended Cariboo Memorial Hospital with teacher Kirsty Bowers to deliver “kindness” bags full of small gifts to housekeeping staff. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
150 Mile House students deliver gift bags showing appreciation for hospital staff

Students begin Monday morning with a bus trip to Cariboo Memorial Hospital

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

423 cases remain active in the region

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

Kamloops This Week
Cause of Kamloops landfill fire may never be known

Fire investigators are dealing with too much destruction in too large an area

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

Most Read