Our Beef is Not Just With Earls – a Better System is Within Reach

"The Earls situation is highly visible, but is just one of the opportunities our farmers have lost due to the lack of alternatives in Canada’s system" says Emery Huszka, President of the National Farmers Union in Ontario.

Context : The recent move by the restaurant chain Earls to use only meat from U.S. suppliers who could meet the "Certified Humane" label criteria is generating considerable discussion. Beef producers, politicians and consumers voiced their discontent and support for Canadian beef producers. The "Certified Humane" label comes from a non-profit organization in the U.S. called Humane Farm Animal Care and certifies animals raised without the use of antibiotics, steroids or added hormones, and slaughtered according to the specifications of animal welfare experts.

Article published on NFU website by Emery Huszka, farmer near Florence, Ontario. He is a board member of the National Farmers Union and President of the National Farmers Union in Ontario.

"When Earls announced it could not find a large and consistent enough supply of Canadian beef that met its criteria, there was a quick and emotional backlash. Yet, Earls sourcing decision also highlights Canada’s need for a more diversified beef system that would create more value for both farmers and consumers."


"We would like to challenge restaurant chains such as Earls to find a way to support Canadian farmers while also listening to their customers and avoiding the ecological footprint of importing meat from the USA. Couldn’t they work with a network of locally-owned, provincially-inspected abattoirs that contract with farmers who produce according to their specifications? Cow-calf producers are already on-side. Smaller feedlots might need to be established to finish the cattle without using the hormones and prophylactic antibiotics. Some of the abattoirs might need to invest in some upgrades, but with an assured market they should be willing to do so. This investment would also allow them to serve a broader market. With increasing consumer interest in local food, demand is likely to grow. Such an approach would contribute to localizing the food system by helping create a market for beef producers in each province where the restaurant chain operates, and would contribute to the infrastructure needed for local food systems."

Read the full article on NFU website.

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