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Ethical Eating - Why Certified Humane is BS
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spygoat Offline
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Ethical Eating - Why Certified Humane is BS

I value what you all have to say in this community and I try to give back what I receive. Below is a summary of thoughts compiled from myself and a few others who care.

Quick background – I am a farmer/student (medschool)/Former oil patch worker in Saskatchewan, Canada. Currently our farm raises ~150 head of cow/calf pairs per year. At the moment this is my main livelihood until I finish school. I have grown up raising horses, cows, pigs, chickens, dogs and cats. We raise animals on our farm because that has been our way of life for the past 100 years.

Recently a chain restaurant in Canada (Earls – 65 locations – 7000 employees) has stated they will no longer utilize Alberta Beef (Canadian Beef) due to its inability to meet the ‘Certified Humane’ Standard. This has caused significant outrage among cattle producers across Western Canada and I’m sure in other places because of the precedent that is being set.

Here is Earl’s Statement – “ At Earl’s we’re committed to conscious sourcing. That’s why all our beef comes from Certified Humane RT farms and is raised without the use of antibiotics, added steroids or hormones. After all, it doesn’t just feel good to do the right thing, it tastes good too.

What is ‘Certified Humane’?

Their first words of their sourcing strategy label their beef as “Certified Humane”, which is an absolute slap in the face to the vast majority of cattle farmers. As a beef producer, I have had the opportunity to visit and tour MANY cattle farms. I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the vast majority of Canadian Beef farms and ranches are raising their cattle in a humane way. We are ranchers for a reason – we like working with animals every day. I have no issue with weeding out the “bad apples” that are bound to turn up in any industry, but these bad farmers are so uncommon, I cannot imagine the need to base your entire purchasing decision around them. I visited the http://certifiedhumane.org website and most specifically their producer page. On the page directed towards the farmers who would use their certification process, there was zero information on what they considered “humane”, zero mention of how becoming certified humane would benefit a farmer’s animals, zero mention of ways to make a farm more humane for it’s animals. So what was the producer page for? Sales. It was touted as a way to sell more product. End of story. Andrew Campbell wrote an article for Real Agriculture about what exactly certified humane means… not much. To top this one off – Canada already has steps to make sure our animals are raised humanely. The Canadian Beef Code of Practices is something each and every one of us take pride in, something we follow because it is the right thing to do, not because we get paid more money for it.

So there’s that. I moved on a few words to “without the use of antibiotics”. This is perhaps the most terrifying marketing catch phrase in my mind. Why? Because this directly impacts animal welfare. I fully believe that healthy animals begin with prevention. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is completely true. The problem is that all sickness cannot be eradicated with prevention alone. Just like people, animals get sick sometimes, it’s a fact of life. Any program that rewards the decision to withhold medication has the potential to have a huge negative impact on animal welfare. Last year, Subway in the USA announced it was going to start sourcing only meat raised without the use of antibiotics. There was an uproar from the agricultural community, explaining the need for (and ethics in using) antibiotics. Subway soon saw the error in their strategy, and reversed their decision. Perhaps Earls could learn something from this. I will stand by the fact that just as I would with my children, if an animal on our ranch falls ill, I will give it the necessary medicine. It would be cruel if I didn’t.
And finally, “no added hormones or steroids”. This I have spoken about many times. With the use of proven safe methods, including hormones, Canadian farmers are now able produce MORE beef (32% more), while using significantly LESS resources (24% less land and 29% less breeding stock), and creating a significantly SMALLER environmental footprint (15% less greenhouse gasses). I wrote about this HERE. Can we produce beef without hormone implants? Sure. But why choose to do less with more if it is a proven, safe, efficient method? To learn more about hormone use in beef read here or here.

While I will say I am all for humane treatment of animals I will say that what this ‘Certified Humane’ group is doing will only likely accomplish one thing at the end ---- increased costs to the end consumer. Much like the organic debate a lot of this is fluff is from people who have no business dictating how agriculture should be practiced or produced. Stick to what you are good at SJW – complaining about how much your life sucks and ruining everyone else’s around you.

Thanks for your time fellas, educate yourself and don’t fall into the corporate trap of over labeling, under serving and over pricing. You are all welcome to come have a steak on me. Be the best fuckin steak around.
05-03-2016 12:34 PM
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