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New abattoir to start up after former one closes

Only slaughterhouse in the Bulkley Valley closed last month
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The Dieleman family, who also own a cattle ranch, are starting a new abattoir after the only one in the area closed last month. Joyce, Nathan and Chelsea will help run the operations. (Marisca Bakker/The Interior News)

After the only abattoir in the area closed its doors last month with very little notice, ranchers and farmers had a bit of panic about where they were going to take their livestock for slaughter.

That was until one family decided to step up and start the services again.

DJ Meat Locker will continue to be the only stand-alone slaughterhouse in the Bulkley Valley and will operate out of the same building the previous abattoir was in.

One of the partners, Joyce Dieleman, of Thompson Creek Beef, who also worked at the previous abattoir, along with her son, knew the community couldn’t be without a nearby slaughterhouse.

She said this is an integral part of the local food system.

The next closest abattoirs are in Vanderhoof or Dawson Creek and Dieleman said they are also busy and probably can’t take on a whole new region’s worth of work.

The cost of transporting animals further away is also something that most farmers haven’t budgeted for.

With her family on board, operations will begin with red meats (beef, hogs, sheep, goats) in June. Poultry will begin after some renovations including updating the processing line and obtaining new government licensing.

Dieleman’s daughter Chelsea Jaarsma is also helping with the new businesses and knows the importance of getting things back online in a timely manner.

“People, like even my parents, they have money already invested in their animals,” she said. “Even if you’re sitting on one animal that you’ve already purchased and all the feed going into it, so they are sitting on money and can’t kind of make up for that cost.”

Jaarsma said she has been fielding calls and emails for the past month from worried producers, some didn’t order animals because of the uncertainty, while others already had their orders in for animals or have already scheduled the cutting and wrapping that takes place after the slaughter.

She added the somewhat recent trend of farm-to-table has made things even busier.

“I feel like people are coming to a different way of thinking again, we’re coming back to this idea that we know we want to eat local, we want to eat things that we feel we have some control over,” she said. “Whether it is coming from a humane standpoint or your ethics on how it was raised, what kind of food you’re actually eating, people want to know.”



Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
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