Regional Ranching Project to Strengthen Local Beef Sales

Prince George, British Columbia, December 3, 2012 – Community Futures Fraser Fort George, through the Beyond the Market project, has launched the Beef Value Chain Initiative to give ranchers in the Highway 16 region more opportunity to showcase their quality beef in the marketplace.

“The beef industry is a complicated one,” says Program Coordinator Jillian Merrick. “There are dozens of steps involved in producing beef before it ever reaches your plate. From breeding, to birth, to weaning, then backgrounding, finishing, processing, butchering, packing, transportation and finally marketing and sales – the system adds more value and complexity each step of the way.”

The Beef Value Chain Initiative is a pilot project that will provide ranchers in the region the opportunity to finish, process, and market their beef locally, resulting in more dollars into their business and into the local economy. To support this, the initiative will develop a practical local value-added business model for the beef industry across the Highway 16 region.

“The Beef Value Chain Initiative will strengthen the industry and benefit our hard-working ranchers and processors,” said Bob Zimmer, Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River and Member of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, on behalf of federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. “It increases the industry’s ability to provide Canadian families with quality beef to serve at their tables.”

“The B.C. Government has been working with producers and communities to ensure British Columbians recognize the economic, environmental and health benefits of eating local,” says BC Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick. “We want to ensure there is a strong future for our local beef industry and buying local is a great way for consumers to show their support.”

Merrick is confident that the opportunities are real. “The region’s ranchers produced over 30,000 beef cows last year. Our pasture lands are incredibly rich and productive. We have three provincially inspected meat processing facilities in the Highway 16 region and a butcher shop in almost every town. At the same time, we have restaurants, resource camps, specialty retailers, fishing, hunting and skiing lodges, and cafeterias all across the region that use beef. In many cases, the necessary infrastructure and opportunities to build the local industry are already in place, and the corridor is connected by several modes of transportation to support shipping. What is needed is a major shift in the business practices and the establishment of direct rancher-to-buyer relationships. We aim to assist with that process.”

For the next eighteen months, Beyond the Market’s Beef Value Chain Initiative will be traveling the Highway 16 corridor to work with local ranchers on developing a practical value-added model which includes developing direct sales options, and assessing the region’s food service operations interest and capacity to engage in direct purchasing of beef. The goal is to open the door for more local residents and visitors to enjoy locally produced beef by generating new market opportunities and sales for the local beef industry. It is hoped that this project will serve as a model for ranching communities across British Columbia.

Beyond the Market’s Beef Value Chain Initiative has been made possible by funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the BC Ministry of Agriculture through the Canada-BC Ranching Task Force Funding Initiative. The AAFC investment is made through the Agricultural Flexibility (AgriFlexibility) Fund, a five-year, $500 million fund created to help reduce costs of production and improve environmental sustainability for the sector, promote value-chain innovation and sectoral adaptation, and respond to emerging opportunities and market challenges, as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

This initiative is delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC. Additional funding is being provided by the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition, and the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation.

For more information, media may contact:

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario

Jeff English
Press Secretary
The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz

Jillian Merrick
Ph: 250 562-9622 ext 115

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