File Photo.

Meat Inspection Regulation changes ‘smoke and mirrors’ says Sylvan Lake shop owner

Rancher and co-owner of The Ranch Gate Market, says the amendments doesn’t change much for producers

Amendments to the Meat Inspection Regulation were made by the government to make new opportunities for Alberta’s livestock sector.

The press release this summer stated the amendments will “cut red tape and provide Albertans with greater access to locally produced meat while maintaining food safety.”

Stewart Staudinger, co-owner of The Ranch Gate Market and bison rancher, described the amendments as “smoke and mirrors” in a recent phone call.

He explained the animal must go to one buyer in its entirety for it to qualify, but most buyers only want a quarter or a half.

Purchasing less than a whole animal puts the sale back to the old Provincial slaughter plan system.

“The only restriction was that the person they sold it to had to own it for 30 days before they could butcher it and use a mobile butcher to butcher it, all this means now is that the 30 day waiting period has disappeared,” said Staudinger.

“I think a lot of [producers] will stick to the old system because they don’t do enough of that kind of business,” he added. “No one makes a living doing that kind of business, it’s something you do on the side.”

He says that type of sale is done to help family, friends or a neighbour who wants to buy bulk, and those sales will continue as the amendments don’t stop people from being able to operate under the old system.

The sales from Staudinger’s ranch are done mostly through his store and the commercial market and says the changes will have no impact on business at the store.

Additional licensing must be applied for to operate under the new system and Staudinger says the return on the investment wouldn’t be there enough for him to apply for his own ranch.

On the other hand, he says the new system gives those raising elk more flexibility.

“… It gives them an option they haven’t previously had because they didn’t have the same ability to market, even with the 30 day waiting,” Staudinger said.

In addition to the changes increasing licensing options for purchase direct from the farm with onsite slaughter for personal consumption the press release states video for pre-slaughter inspections will be allowed in emergency situations.

“Abattoirs won’t have to wait for an appointed inspector to arrive in person on-farm to perform an inspection if animal welfare is at stake,” reads the July 29 release.

Allowing provincially licensed meat facilities to salvage and sell by-products also comes in the modernized Alberta’s Meat Inspection Regulations resulting in abattoirs being able to expand into markets which use meat by-products for human consumption, pet food and wildlife bait.

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