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LETTER: Egg-xtremely scrambled rules around local egg sales

Dear Rosslanders,

I don't know how many of you are sufficiently concerned about the cruelty, environmental contamination, and health issues involved in producing factory-farmed or "free run" eggs, to the extent that you regularly buy free-RANGE eggs produced by one of the several small farmers in our area. If these issues don't matter to you, then you'll probably want to skip the rest of this.

But if you are one of the dozens of Rossland families who prefer locally-produced free-range eggs, you might be interested to know that a new hot-to-trot young government inspector assigned to this area has cracked down on Rossland, enforcing government regs that now make it more difficult and time-consuming for us to buy locally-produced eggs.

Locally-produced eggs can no longer be sold at shops on Columbia Avenue (such as Nature's Den and Rossland Grocery) unless the retailers buy special permits and conform to a host of other regs. Likewise, the local farmers producing eggs can no longer sell them through retail outlets or local restaurants unless they get a special permit and conform to a host of other regulations that will end up costing more than it's worth if you've just got a small flock of free-range chickens and producing a few dozen cartons of eggs for sale
per week.

Are these regulations being enforced because fresh eggs from our local farmers are unsafe? No--because you can still DRIVE out to the farms and
buy the eggs directly from the farmer. But the farmer can't bring those very same eggs into town and sell them through a local retailer!  When I protested to the head inspector for this area, he said well, the farmers could always bring their eggs in and sell them at a farmers' market, as they are "less regulated."  In other words, it's all about cracking down on small egg producers and small stores--not about the safety of the eggs, since the same eggs ARE considered safe enough to sell either at the farm or in a farmers' market. Go figure!

I am not typically given to taking up lost causes, and this may well be one of them, but here's the thing:

People who want the right to buy farm-fresh eggs WITHOUT having to add to global warming by driving five or ten kilometres out to the farm to let them are fighting this issue in other areas, and if we don't want to lose our access to good fresh eggs, and do want to support local farmers and small retailers, we'll have to make some noise. It may not make any difference, but on the other hand, clucking our complaints to each other like a bunch of chickens isn't going to help either.

What I propose is that if this issue matters to you, you drop an e-mail to DEANNA ZGRABLIC, the "Egg Program Specialist" in Abbotsford, who is the boss of BRIAN SANDILANDS in Oliver, who is the boss of DAVID MUTCH in Creston, who is the one who has forbidden shops on Columbia Avenue to sell fresh eggs from local farmers unless retailers and their egg suppliers jump through a costly number of government-mandated hoops.

Since this is a matter of provincial regulations, it might also be worth contacting our MLA Katrine Conroy.

Here are the relevant E-dresses:

Deanna.Zgrablic@inspection.gc.ca
Bryan.Sandilands@inspection.gc.ca
MutchDA@inspection.gc.ca
Katrine.Conroy.MLA@leg.bc.ca

I'm not sure where we can go from there, but I do know that this battle is being fought on the coast and in other communities across the country. Down in the US, students at the University of California have just managed to force that institution, which uses millions of eggs a year, to stop buying factory-farmed eggs and start buying free-range ones. So...noise, enough noise, sometimes works. If I find out what other steps we might take to support our local small farmers and retailers, I'll let you know.

Rosa Jordan

Rossland