LETTER: More chickens = more local food
Increased allowances for poultry producers will benefit the Boundary as local farmers raise more birds. The changes to these regulations came as a result of conversations between producers, processors and Meat Industry Enhancement Strategy (MIES) and the B.C. Chicken Marketing Board. They have changed the kilogram reference and are now allowing farmers to produce 2,000 birds per year with the same kind of simple, low-cost permit. The poultry producers of the Boundary have been working hard to raise meat birds for locals over the past three years. With the mobile processing unit (MPU) coming from the Okanagan twice a year, they have been able to produce government inspected local meat birds that have been in high demand. The current non-quota permit required by the B.C. Chicken Marketing Board allowed farmers to raise 3000 kilograms of meat per year. This amounted to approximately 600 birds per farm. With the change in the regulations, local producers will be able to provide even more locally-raised birds for the region – over triple their prior potential production. The Grand Forks and Boundary Regional Agricultural Society (AG Society) continues working towards having a MPU for the region which will do red meat and poultry in the future. Once funding is in place the unit could be ready this fall. The new poultry regulations are great news for consumers and producers as well. It will also build needed clientele for the MPU. But with this news comes many questions such as:
- What regulations cover the buildings which will be needed, what is the best building to use? How much red tape do producers have to put up with?
- Could local feed be grown to support this?
- Could a local hatchery be started? Could a local breed be developed?
- Where can these birds be marketed?
- With our change in agriculture since the sixties we have lost our local infrastructure for raising meat birds and other animals on the farm. How can this infrastructure be rebuilt?
- Everyone is concerned about quality of products, how can this quality be ensured!
I feel there is a need for smaller family farms to raise meat products for our region and for these to be profitable. All producers that are growing with the program now are recording a profit, modest, but a profit. Since for each 100 birds grown there is a requirement for one tonne of feed, it soon becomes clear how this could affect local feed production too.
I hope to see a growing poultry industry for the Boundary that collaborates to resolve the questions above and provides us with locally-grown, sustainable agriculture in our communities. Doug Zorn President,North Fork and Poultry.ca