With the number of small-scale meat processing sites dwindling in the center of the island, a farmer in Nanaimo wants to set up a slaughterhouse for chickens, turkeys, ducks and other poultry.
Ben Glassen applied to the Farmlands Commission for a non-farm farmland reserve use permit that would see the facility established on leased land on Jingle Pot Road. Its proposal would include a rotary scald, plucker with feather chute, stainless steel worktables, cooler, freezer and inspection area.
While there were five red meat establishments and five poultry facilities on the island in 2018, two red meat sites and two poultry sites closed, including one in Whiskey Creek in December 2020, according to Glassen. The small farming community currently has three options for processing meat: Saanichton, Cobble Hill, which it says offers limited personalized processing, and Black Creek, which can be inconvenient due to travel time, he said. declared.
“In order for me to develop my farm, or for someone else to even keep farming, we need options for meat processing,” Glassen said.
The site is located in Electoral Zone C of the Nanaimo Regional District and the RDN Electoral Zone Services Committee approved a motion on July 8, expressing support for Glassen and recommending that the ALC give its approval. The motion will go to the RDN board meeting on July 27, where Glassen will also make a presentation.
Glassen said non-agricultural use is less prohibitive than agricultural use, which would require him to produce 50 percent of the birds passing through the plant. The capacity of the slaughterhouse would be 300 birds per day, starting from three days per week, he said.
“In order to produce 50 percent of the birds, just to run three days a week, I would have to produce 4,200 turkeys,” Glassen said. “I should get into the quota system. To buy quota, it would cost around $ 250,000… I would also have to build an industrial barn for $ 250,000, moreover, you are not allowed to have quota unless you own the land, for $ 250,000 Furthermore.
“Then I can build my factory for $ 250,000. So to process a chicken for a “mother of the farm”, I would need a million dollars, under the quota system. ”
Tyler Brown, chairman of the RDN board, said additional RDN approvals would be needed for the slaughterhouse, including a temporary use permit or zoning change, but such facilities are needed.
“If we are to support more localized agriculture, there is a real need to ensure that facilities in the region exist that can support these smaller scale operators,” Brown said. “There are barriers for smaller scale operators within the industrialized farming system, which we inhabit. The majority of our food production comes from the industrial scale, mainly from companies. “
Kim Smythe, president and CEO of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, also believes such facilities are necessary.
“There has to be more small scale food service in general and agricultural service, agricultural service and that would include slaughterhouses, dressing and butchery and all that stuff,” Smythe said. “There is a conscious movement towards a return to more agriculture in our region. Duncan is in good health, Comox Valley is in good health, Nanaimo is ten years behind in these two areas in food knowledge and protection and local food production.
Asked about the closure of meat processing sites, Glassen said there appears to be reduced interest in farming. The average age of farmers is close to 60, he said.
“They say any industry where the average age is over 35 is a declining industry,” Glassen said. “Agriculture is [about] double, ditto for agricultural services. One of the red meat facilities and one of the poultry facilities, the owners died while still in business without a succession plan. The other two, they finally gave up, threw in the towel and withdrew without a succession plan.
“If I’m the young man who has to take responsibility and build the capacity of the slaughterhouses on Vancouver Island, I guess that’s the job I have to do in order to continue farming.
Agricultural Land Reserve Agriculture Nanaimo Regional District