Sask. ranchers, premier glad Earls is going back to Canadian beef

Adrienne Ivey says there's a need to educate the public about livestock treatment.

Adrienne Ivey says there's a need to educate the public about livestock treatment

Earls says it will now use Canadian beef. (Kate Adach/CBC)

At least one Saskatchewan rancher is glad Earls restaurant changed its mind about serving Canadian beef in its restaurants.

Adrienne Ivey says it's an important first step.

Earls announced last week that it would start sourcing its beef from a Kansas ranch that is accredited by the non-profit group Humane Farm Animal Care. The Virginia-based organization operates a program called Certified Humane that inspects farms, ranches and slaughter facilities, and certifies meat and dairy products.

Earls reversed its decision on Wednesday after Canadians reacted in outrage.

"We made a mistake," said Earls president Mo Jessa. 

Ivey farms near Ituna, Sask., and called it a partial victory. 

"I'm very excited and very happy with Earls," she said. "Admitting that you're wrong on a big stage like this would not be an easy thing to do, so I give them full credit for that."

More education needed

Ivey says this underscores a need for cattle producers to do far more to educate restaurants and consumers about their product.

"What's best for the cow is what's best for the farmer and the two cannot be separated. You will never find a successful farmer that mistreats his livestock."

Ivey says farmers should let people know how they treat animals.

"We need to be talking about what our practices are, what these cattle's lives are actually like, how they're treated. And if nothing else, this has been an excellent conversation starter between farmers and consumers and all the steps that happen in between."

Premier and Saskatchewan government applaud reversal

Premier Brad Wall took to Facebook to show he approved of the decision.

Saskatchewan's Minister of Agriculture Lyle Stewart met with reporters on Wednesday saying he's pleased to hear Earls is making a good first step on the issue of using Canadian beef.

"I think there's still some work to do, I think that Earls will work with the industry to really come to appreciate what is available in Canada."

Stewart added the agriculture industry in Canada needs to do a better job of informing the public that Canadian beef is produced to the highest standards of anywhere in the world.

"The code of practice governs how we look after livestock from birth, through availability of water, nutrition, shelter, transportation and finally humane slaughter practices. It's all in the code of practices in this country and every producer is expected to be compliant."