It’s about time.
I am old enough to remember the last overblown pandemic which decimated the Alberta economy. That was BSE (mad cow disease). Alberta producers could not export their cattle due to a worldwide panic over a disease which had not actually killed anybody. As a result, producers were killing and disposing of their animals as the process to try and sell meat directly to consumers was too onerous.
While Alberta producers were swimming in a surplus of beef, consumers were still paying the full price for beef at the grocery stores as a small cartel of major meat processors ensured that retail prices stayed high. I remember how some producers slaughtered and ground beef to be sold directly to people in lots in Calgary. They were sold out in minutes as government kindly looked the other way at this gray market transaction. Pretty sad that something as simple as selling a food product had to be done in a parking lot transaction which felt like a drug deal.
Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen announced yesterday that new regulations will allow producers to slaughter livestock on site and sell directly to consumers.
While producers could already sell directly to consumers before, they had to transport the cattle to a slaughter facility and payment had to be made through the slaughterhouse. It was a pain in the arse and took away much of the advantage of a farm-direct transaction as the expense was incurred by the transport and the animal was stressed by the trip.
Livestock still needs to be processed by a licensed butcher and health regulations need to be followed. Now though, this can be done by a mobile butcher (or the producer if they are licensed). Video inspections are now allowed as well to ensure that protocols are followed.
This is fantastic news for consumers who want to directly support local producers and for producers who want more value added to their meat products.
It is doubtless that some ambitious butchers are already preparing mobile setups and some producers are preparing to advertise direct sales.
This is a winning policy for us all (aside from the handful of giant meat processors).
We need some good news and policy now and then and here we have some.