There is relief among ruminant producers in my riding of Prince George-Peace River that the United States border is now open to some Canadian beef and other ruminants. However, the losses endured due to that border closure have taken a tragic toll on farmers, their families and the entire agriculture industry.
The severe shortage of slaughter capacity created with the U.S. ban on Canadian ruminants was compounded for producers in my region when an Edmonton slaughterhouse burned down last year. I have brought to your attention previously, the initiatives by the Peace Country Tender Beef Co-op and the Northern BC Buffalo Company to expand slaughter capacity in our relatively northern, remote region.
I would like to point to several convincing arguments for why federal regulations that currently prevent the Northern BC Buffalo Compnay from proceeding with plans to operate a mobile slaughterhouse for buffalo, beef, and lamb should be amended.
The regulations prohibit the use of ?trailer-like? structures for slaughter operations. Yet, the mobile abattoir proposed by the Northern BC Buffalo Company is a very sophisticated, technologically-advanced facility that would comply ? and surpass ? the food safety standards of any other federally-inspected slaughter operation in Canada.
Aside from the added slaughter capacity created, mobile abattoirs such as this one would reap the following benefits:
Value-added: We must re-develop a robust and competitive slaughter capacity and meat packing industry here in Canada and pursue new markets abroad, particularly in Europe and Asia. Exporting to these markets requires that the mobile abattoirs be federally-inspected.
Early detection: Mobile abattoirs process one animal at a time, as opposed to an assembly line where hundreds are processed. Detecting a potential ?problem? animal before it ever gets near the food chain is much more likely.
Containment: If a ?problem? animal is detected, containment is easily accomplished by immediately sealing off the mobile abattoir.
Traceability: The U.S. border closure demonstrated the need to instantly trace the exact origins of an animal. Origins are readily apparent if processed in a mobile abattoir. Furthermore, niche markets could be developed where discriminating diners would know exactly which ranch or farm produced their meal.
Cost efficiency. Transportation costs would not be incurred to get animals to the slaughterhouse.
Emissions: Reduced transport of animals means reduced vehicle emissions.
Humane treatment: There is a growing preference among Canadian consumers for the humane treatment of food animals. Mobile abattoirs travel to the animals. Transport of animals to a permanent slaughterhouse can create acute suffering. Three-and-a-half million food animals arrived at federally-inspected slaughterhouses dead or unsuitable for slaughter in 1999 often due to transport-inflicted conditions or injuries.
Competitiveness: Mobile abattoirs are already successfully operating in Washington State and in Europe.
For all of these reasons and many more, which I know the Northern BC Buffalo Company has outlined in their proposal, I strongly urge you to move as expeditiously as possible in amending federal regulations to permit operation of federally-inspected mobile abattoirs in Canada.
Sincerely, Jay Hill, MP
Prince George-Peace River