Goodbye Earls

Dear Earls,

You use to be my husband and I’s first pick for a restaurant and now after your latest ad campaign we will no longer be eating there.

Sincerely,

The Erika’s and their families

This is a very frustrating time for us as cattle producers. Big corporate business is using fear tactics in advertising to sell more product, meanwhile there are huge negative impacts on the beef industry. As rancher’s we take real offence to these marketing scams that imply that Canadian ranchers are not doing a good job at raising cattle in a humane fashion or following antibiotic guidelines; when in fact Canada is one of the safest food producing countries in the world.

It’s frustrating that marketers can come up with a ‘catch phrase’ that instantly implies that producers are not treating their animals in a humane way.  It is even more frustrating that consumers so quickly believe it.  We love our animals and do everything we can to ensure their health. Canada has recently put in place the Beef Code of Practise which gives guidelines to raise healthy, safe beef. In addition, the Beef Code of Practise was designed with the involvement of many different stakeholders including the SPCA, McDonalds, ranchers, consumers, veterinarians and many more. On both of our ranches, just like the majority of Canadian ranches, we keep improving our management practises and striving to be innovative. For example, on both of our ranches we have completed the Environmental Farm Plan, Verified Beef Production, and this year are trying a new product that is on the market that is called Metacam. Metacam is an anti-inflammatory that we can offer to a sick or hurt animal just like we would take an Advil. For Earl’s to source their “humane” beef in the USA instead of Canada directly impacts our families as this is our livelihood. Moreover, they are not specific as to what humane means and their qualifications are no different that what ranchers in Canada do already.

Looking at the FAQ’s on Earls website their response to “What does ‘humanely or ethically raised’ mean?” Earl’s vague answer left us feeling more frustrated. There are no specific standards their beef source follows. Their explanation begins with it varies? If you are marketing this product that is humane certified shouldn’t it have specific guidelines to follow not variable ones?

Another section from the FAQ’s on Earls website they claim that the animals for their beef are treated with care, respect, dignity and are ethically cared for. Again this is advertising. All ranchers we know do these things. That is why they are ranchers. It is frustrating because they create a doubt in the consumers mind that we are not doing these things.

Earls says they are humane because meat for their restaurants is harvested at facilities that have been designed by Temple Grandin. Temple Grandin is an amazing animal behaviourist who has designed over 60 % of the slaughter facilities in North America. Her low stress handling facilities have revolutionized the industry worldwide, therefore her techniques are not just restricted to “Earl’s” beef, but the majority of the beef industry. Her low stress handling techniques are used by ranchers everyday when moving and handling cattle.

Lastly, the catch phrase ‘anti-biotic free’ we have a real issue with, especially when it is combined with the word ‘humane’. If an animal is suffering, is it humane NOT to treat this animal with the recommend product and dose of antibiotics? Is it more humane to let an animal suffer even when you have the means to treat it?? As ranchers we do use antibiotics when necessary. If an animal is sick, and can be treated, we treat it following our veterinarian consultations and the label guidelines complying with the withdrawal period. That means, depending on the product, the label tells you the number of days before the animal can be slaughtered for human consumption, so there is no residue in the meat.  If Earls’ is claiming to source humane beef, in our opinion it is inhumane not to treat a sick animal. Do people really think that it is better to let a sick animal suffer when we have the ability to help? What if your child or pet was sick and you could help them, would you choose not to?

Please be confident in Canadian beef and Canadian ranchers. Trust that we are raising quality, safe beef for your family and ours.

Erika Strande and Erika Fossen

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Bottle feeding twins to make sure they get enough milk because their mom doesn’t have enough milk for both calves.

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Towing a newborn calf into the barn in the calf sled to ensure he doesn’t get sick.

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Putting fresh bedding down in the calving barns so the new born calves have a clean dry place to lay down. These are just a few of the humane things ranchers due to ensure their animals are healthy.

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Where our cows live!

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11 thoughts on “Goodbye Earls

  1. Laura - CaledonAcres says:

    So heartbreaking to read this… We have such great farmers right here, in our backyard, why import??? I bet you it’s mostly about the “bottom line” and cheaper prices than what their PR blurb says…

  2. Janet Notman says:

    I am very disappointed in Earls! Thank you for explaining humane beef. The average person has no idea about this topic.

  3. Will Sturgeon says:

    I’m with you Girls. Keep at it. In fact, I think the BC Cattlemens Association and the Canadian Assoc as well are remiss in not using this Earls BS as an opportunity and launching pad for a counter-attack to both address Earl’s misinformation and almost slanderous implications about Canadian practices, and to showcase Canadian standards. Take a page from Earl’s Playbook, and get a markering advertisement out there. Where’s the response? We’re CANADIAN! Stand up and defend our Ranchers. First the A&W ‘no added hormone’ crap, and now this. That old adage, “Justice must not only be done, but SEEN to be done” applies here – silence implies Earls was on to something. Earls BS is getting headlines = visibility. The Cnadian Beef enterprise needs an equally visible response, one that is not a ten second sound byte, but an ongoing awareness campaign for the minds of the City Dwelling populace ignorant of rural practices. Lead the charge Girls.

  4. Jody Perry says:

    Well said girls!! The Perry’s feel the same way!!

  5. Jack Guenther says:

    America is very fortunate to have Temple Grandin to help them treat animals humainly and with respect like a lot of ranchers in Canada do.

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