The Small Scale Meat Producers Association (SSMPA) is reacting to new funding announced by the Province of BC, with accessibility to the new funds and the program’s administrative costs being their main topics of concern.
The association, made up of farmers and ranchers raising meat across British Columbia, looks to support its membership base by providing government feedback on the effectiveness and accessibility of provincial and federal programs related to the raising, processing, and sale of meat. Reacting to the new Extreme Weather Preparedness for Agriculture program, which provides a total of $1.5 million in available funding to B.C. farmers for wildfire and flooding preparedness efforts, representatives of SSMPA said they worry the program doesn’t go far enough in terms of funding or accessibility.
“I’m not sure it’s enough funding, and I have some concerns about the administrative cost of it, on both sides. There’s always a lot of money for consultants, which comes out of the budget that would be used to actually get things done. I think that’s an important thing to look at,” said Julia Smith, project manager for SSMPA.
“It costs something to apply for these things. It’s particularly at this time of year where the people that could benefit from this funding don’t have time to apply for it. I have spoken with the program and there will be another round of funding coming out later this year, so that’s good news.”
The application period for the current round of funding for the program ends on August 15, but future rounds will occur in the fall. Smith says that many of the producers that would benefit from this new provincial funding are busy haying, moving cattle, and tending to their crops during the extreme heat during the first intake. She is hopeful that the organization’s feedback will be well received; feedback that will be collected from their members who apply for or inquire about the program.
In the past, funding and support was made available through both government and non-profit channels to enable busy agricultural producers to apply for vital funding such as the Extreme Weather Preparedness for Agriculture program. The SSMPA, having recently updated its guiding documents, is interested in providing these services once again.
“There used to be support in place to help producers apply for this sort of funding. Nobody has got time to apply for it, it’s hard. As a society, we would absolutely love to be able to offer that service to our members and support them through these kinds of applications,” added Smith.
“It’s on our list for our strategic plan, which we’ve just updated. We would realize efficiencies. Rather than having someone with shoes on carpet, we need people with boots on the ground.”
Smith and the SSMPA hope to see more dollars go directly to producers rather than administrative costs. Moving forward, they will watch the effectiveness and accessibility of this and other government programs, as well as continuing to focus on their primary goal of advocating for producers working on a small-scale outside the conventional, industrial system.
The SSMPA’s community abattoir project, which received $1 million in funding earlier this year, is also making progress. The organization has received a letter of interest from the Coldwater Indian Band, and is exploring the possibility of developing the new public cut-and-wrap facility at the Comstock Industrial Park, 10 kilometres south of Merritt on Coldwater Road. The SSMPA has applied for another $500,000 in government funding, with Smith adding that she is “cautiously optimistic” about their chances of success.
For more information on the Small Scale Meat Producers Association, including membership applications and updates, visit www.smallscalemeat.ca.