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LETTERS – for May. 14, 2009

Don’t Gas Beef

Wendy Cech Fort Fraser, B. C.

I am responding to an article in your March 2009 issue, page 46, about a survey conducted in Alberta regarding gassing meat with carbon monoxide to retain its cherry-red colour and extend shelf life for up to 14 days. I cannot believe that this survey could possibly have been conducted honestly. The article indicated 60 per cent of the 205 people surveyed would buy meat that was gassed. I think these people were very misled, as who in their right mind would buy meat that was gassed with the deadly poisonous carbon monoxide? Figures this takes place in the U. S. already. Hopefully Canada will not be stupid enough to follow suit. I doubt these meats are advertised as being gassed with carbon monoxide, but rather termed “atmosphere packaging,” which is extremely misleading. If the people that participated in the survey were told that “atmosphere packaging” actually meant “gassing with carbon monoxide,” I would imagine the survey results would be drastically different. Why would anyone ever even consider doing such a thing to meat in the first place?

Alberta welched on payments

CECILY KNODEL SEVEN PERSONS, ALTA.

My husband and I recently received our second payment for the (Alberta) age verification and premise identification program known as AFRP II. We were shocked to discover that the payment was less than one-third of the initial payment. The accompanying letter indicated the government failed to anticipate the high level of participation by Alberta’s beef producers and had therefore miscalculated the total amount of funds required to finance the program. Only a small portion of the original $300 million remained so final payments were reduced accordingly. We were to console ourselves in the knowledge that had the government correctly calculated producer participation the original cheque would have been much smaller. Producers should apparently be grateful that any money was left for a second payment.

Producer support was more than 95 per cent. Why would the government believe it to be anything less? The cattle industry is under enormous strain. Any opportunity to improve cash flow is going to be seized by producers. In his letter to producers (July 7, 2008), Minister (George) Groeneveld clearly states, “Recently eligible producers received a cheque which represented half of the $300 million provided to help sustain the Alberta livestock and meat industry as it transitions under the new Alberta Livestock and Meat Strategy. In January 2009, the second half of the $300 million will be made available.” Any reasonable person would assume that if half was being paid in June and the other half was being dispersed in January.

Initial cheques were processed in June. Minister Groeneveld’s letter is dated in July. How could he not already know that he was over budget? Instead he let producers believe that in exchange for complete compliance with program conditions they would receive cheques equaling the amount of the initial payment in January.

Producers too need to estimate expenses and revenue when planning for the coming year. We appreciate the difficulty in determining accurate estimates. However, we do not share the luxury of being able to say we made a mistake in our calculations so we cannot honour our commitments. My creditors expect payment in full for services and products provided by them. The Alberta government, in my view, has broken a contractual obligation it initiated with producers and has violated our trust.

Mr. Stelmach’s decision to honour his financial commitments (bonuses) to deputy ministers and senior managers is offensive in light of his willingness to so quickly dismiss his commitments to beef producers. Next time compliance may not be so willingly gained.

Don’t call them CULLS

ALEX KULCHUR VANDERHOOF, B. C.

If, as cattle producers we agree that we are not only raising animals, but also a part of someone’s future meat, I have a concern over a term which is commonly used in the cattle industry

A definition of CULL from WEBSTER’S dictionary is of something rejected, not being up to standard.

Breeding animals are removed from a herd for a variety of reason: fertility, disposition, conformation, lack of production, inability to have a live calf at weaning, or a reason that is more common today, not enough revenue when compared to costs. None of these reasons affect the

quality of the meat coming from these animals.

Are we content to go referring to 20 per cent of our slaughter production as coming from culls? How can we expect to be recognized as an industry that produces a high-quality, nutritious and delicious product when we are sourcing a portion of it from culls?

Every month I flip to the markets section at the back of CATTLEMEN and am greeted with a headline after Fed Cattle and Feeder Cattle that says Cull Cattle. Why can’t these be referred to as Slaughter cows and bulls?

I am not a fan of political correctness. However, I believe that we must be more careful about how we refer to these mature market animals.

These are indeed trying times for the beef industry; a lot of factors affecting us are out of our control. However, this issue is well within our control. I would ask that producers, analysts and auction market operators consider the way that they refer to these mature animals. Show some respect. It’s someone’s dinner we are talking about.

A good advertisement

ALEX AND PEGGY LETTS ST. ALBERT, ALTA.

We farm near St. Alberta, Alta., and raise a few Simmental cattle. Our son and his family including our granddaughter Lexi live in Mesa. Arizona. Lexi appears to like Canadian beef. She is eight years of age and in Grade 3. This is her creative writing project which is one of the best advertisements for Canadian beef that we have seen. Not everyone in the U.S. supports R-CALF.

Canada Beef

Canadian beef is my favourite food because it’s so chewy. Also it melts in your mouth because of all the spices. The beef smells delicious. It also looks a little like steak.

I think it tastes way better than any other plain old beef. The colour of it is brown. It’s also my mom’s favourite food.

Every time I go up to Canada I ask my Grandpa, “When are we having beef?” If we’re having it tonight I run upstairs to tell everyone else. Beef, beef, beef… can’t get enough.

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