Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Que. to offer transitional slaughterhouse licenses

Local-level slaughter and meat processing operations in Quebec that have been exempt from licensing rules will now be regulated under a new transitional license requirement.

The province’s agriculture, food and fisheries ministry (MAPAQ) on Friday announced that the provincial assembly has adopted a bill it says will improve standards for production and hygiene across the meat industry.

But more importantly, the province said, the bill will ensure the survival of unlicensed local-level abattoirs and thus promote regional development of the meat sector.

An abattoir or meat preparation facility that has operated without a license between June 14, 1977 and the introduction of this bill will now be able to access a transitional license, the province said.

Beyond the transitional permit, the bill also sets up a new type of slaughterhouse permit that authorizes the same activities as those covered by an unlicensed facility’s transitional license. It also lays out the conditions for such licenses to be issued and renewed.

The bill also gives the provincial ag minister the power to regulate affected slaughterhouses’ hours of operations, and amends the province’s powers of inspection to also cover animals at a facility.

Agriculture Minister Laurent Lessard said in a release Friday that it’s “essential” for producers in Quebec’s various livestock-producing regions to have access to nearby slaughter facilities. Friday’s bill, he said, takes those existing supply chains into account while responding to the needs of farmers, processors and consumers alike.

The file in question, he said, has been on MAPAQ’s table for 30 years. The bill’s unanimous adoption proves working together can provide concrete results, he added.

The bill also allows consumers to continue to find quality local foods near where they live, giving them one more reason to “put Quebec on their plate,” Lessard said, referring to the province’s “Le Quebec dans votre assiette!” local-food marketing campaign.

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