Unions, producers have opposing views on changes to Alberta’s meat inspection regulations

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Thompson said producers who are worried about safety and their reputation welcome inspection regulations.

Minister of Agriculture Devin Dreeshen said Alberta continues to have an incredibly safe food system. He said the new regulations only allow for a whole animal to be sold after it is slaughtered on the farm and it can only be sold to a single consumer.

Any meat that is sold along the supply chain, including through slaughterhouses or in grocery stores, still needs to be inspected.

Dreeshen said the change brings Alberta in line with neighbouring provinces who have allowed the practice for years.

“We do have the cleanest and best beef, and that’s something that the industry takes tremendous amount of pride in and that’s something that the government does as well. So that’ll remain intact,” said Dreeshen.

Dreeshen noted producers will still need to be licensed for on-farm slaughters.

Ian Griebel, a rancher near Castor, said he began the process to become licensed this week. He praised the changes, saying he didn’t think he would live to see the day the government allowed for the practice to occur.

“It’s not always normal that government will deregulate stuff,” said Griebel. “It has an impact on a smaller group of people and people that don’t have as big of a voice. So, I really applaud our government for taking these steps.”

Griebel, who raises cattle and pastured pork with an emphasis on sustainable practices, said on-farm slaughter provides a more ethical and natural death for cattle. Rather than stressing animals out in confined spaces in a slaughterhouse surrounded by the smell of blood, he said they can simply knock the cows out and bleed them out in their natural environment.

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