B.C.: business plan to come for Prince George beef processing

Canada and B.C. governments contribute funding towards business plan for a federally inspected beef processing plant in Prince George.

Cattle from a Vanderhoof farm in 2014.

Cattle from a Vanderhoof farm in 2014.

PRINCE GEORGE – The governments of Canada and British Columbia are contributing funding toward the development of a business plan as the next step in having a federally inspected beef processing plant up and running in Prince George.

“With an estimated 800 related new jobs, a processing plant in Prince George brings the potential of another economic driver to our city, the Cariboo and the North,” said Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond. “Should the business model prove successful, we are well positioned through our shipping, rail and transportation infrastructure to help put B.C. beef on dinner tables around the world.”

The BC Cattlemen’s Association (BCCA) will receive up to $144,000 of federal and provincial government funding to identify supply-chain and investment partners, and develop business models for the ownership and operation of the plant. The BCCA will also contribute up to $16,000 for the development of the plan, which will incorporate a marketing and sales strategy, defined production and operation requirements, as well as financial, human resource and contingency plans.

“B.C. has a vibrant cattle industry that has opportunity for growth,” said BC Cattlemen’s Association general manager Kevin Boon. “The lack of a federally inspected packing plant restricts us from taking advantage of many aspects of the value chain.

“The investment of these dollars now is prudent for industry to make informed decisions as to whether this is a viable progression for the beef industry in B.C.”

If it were to proceed, the plant would significantly boost the capacity to export B.C. beef directly to foreign markets.

Currently, B.C. cattle are most often processed at federally licensed plants in Alberta or the United States when the beef is going to be sold to other provinces or countries.

The business plan will support earlier BCCA research that predicted a federally inspected plant would potentially generate significant economic benefits for B.C.’s cattle sector and the Prince George area, including, within three years of operation, potential for:

* An additional $250 million in annual beef and byproduct sales.

* An increase in value-added exports of up to $180 million.

* Up to 180 new full-time-equivalent jobs within the plant and about 620 spinoff jobs.

The plant could increase local food supply security and help supply beef to British Columbian families, as well as be exported to markets in Europe and Asia.