Alberta Beef Producers are making their voices heard when it comes to Earls efforts to get only certified humane beef.
Earls says it will no longer use beef that has been treated with hormones, steroids, or antibiotics.
ABP Chair Bob Lowe says he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“I guess the big thing about what Earls did is it’s a slap in the face,” says Lowe. “They’re insinuating that I don’t raise my cattle humanely. And that’s a slap in the face that makes me and every other producer in Canada mad.”
He says the industry might have taken its solid practices for granted, assuming everyone was on-board, but the pendulum has shifted.
“People don’t trust anymore,” says Lowe. “So (to have) public acceptance of our product, we have to continually be proving that we’re doing what we’re saying we’re doing.”
Meanwhile, Earls spokeswoman Cate Simpson tells 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen they didn’t expect this level of backlash.
“We knew that the fact that we were no longer serving Canadian beef was going to be a real issue,” says Simpson. “But, I don’t think we quite realized the power of the Alberta beef lobby groups, and the Cattle Association to get things moving.”
Simpson adds that Earls remains “100 per cent behind their decision”.
She also says Earls told Alberta beef producers three years ago that they would be making the switch to humane beef, and they would have to get certified.
But, they did not notify the Cattleman’s Association, because they would rather “go directly to the suppliers”.
Simpson adds that this simply came down to a supply issue.
“Seventy per cent of (Alberta) beef is going out to retail,” says Simpson. “A vast portion of what remains is going to the U.S. market, and there’s really very little left behind for restaurants and wholesalers to work with. If there was a larger supply, we absolutely would have stayed with an Alberta producer.”
Premier Rachel Notley has come out in defense of the beef industry, and says it’s second to none.
“I’ve lived all over Canada, and in other parts of the world,” says Notley. “And I can tell you there’s no place in the world where you can get more tasty beef than in Alberta. And I think most people know that and the brand is a strong one.
Notley says she hopes a national round table on certification around organics can move quickly to prove what’s already known in the province.
Earls made the decision to switch to certified humane beef on Tuesday, sparking backlash on social media. (km/rjs/sj/bw)