Being Shut Out of Prime Minister Trudeau’s Town Hall Meeting 

I have often dreamed of having the chance to ask PM Trudeau a question. I have many questions, but the idea of him having to answer any one of them honestly makes my spine tingle. So when I heard that he was finally coming to Saskatchewan as part of his cross-country town hall meeting tour, you can bet I jumped at the chance to secure myself a seat. It was last minute, as there was only a 36 hr space between when the meeting was announced, and when it was to take place. But this monumental moment – a moment which PM Trudreau himself explained as the time for him to listen to the concerns of the Canadian people, was something I very much wanted to be a part of. 

I was surprised to learn that the only way to reserve a seat was through a Liberal Party website. I was required to provide them (with no privacy policy in sight) with my personal information, including my address and telephone number. I guess they needed to bulk up their data base. 

After inputting my personal info (which I can honestly say I would never have freely given to the Liberal Party without the carrot of seeing PM Trudeau and possibly asking him a question), I received a confirmation email. 

Having received the above confirmation, I quickly went about making the necessary arrangements needed for a last minute 600km trip. Child care was arranged, as well as chore duty. Even with a possibility of meeting the PM, our animals needs must come first. On top of the regular chaos of the ranch and children, the day of Trudeau’s town hall also happened to fall on my birthday. So party plans were called off, and I broke the news to my kids that they would have to save the celebrations for the following day. 

I spent a large part of my day brainstorming ideas of possible questions to ask. I threw it out on social media, asking what respectful questions my peers would ask. There were many concerns, and thoughtful questions to go with them. 

I was very surprised to see, almost 12 hours later, another email directly from the sole Saskatchewan Liberal MP’s office in my inbox. 

I was shocked. How was this possible? There was only one way to register. They knew the exact size of the location. How could it be possible that they had over-booked the venue? The registration itself was only open for a few hours. 

Something is not adding up.

I was not surprised to see that of all the people I knew that also had an RSVP’d confirmation, each had also received the same second email. The western rural voice I had so hoped to see represented well, is apparently not going to be there. 

I am incredibly disappointed in this. Not in the idea of partisanship meetings. Not the favouritism to the Liberal supporters, but the dishonesty around it all. 

If PM Trudeau wants to (only) speak with the people that voted for him, that’s fine. But don’t call it an open town hall. And don’t make the taxpayers foot the bill. Being shut out of this meeting makes me furious. 

For a man so concerned with climate change that he is willing to force an unwanted, ineffective, carbon tax down our throats, it is shocking to me that he would expect a working mother to drive 600kms for the small chance of even getting in the door. For a man that wants to “listen” to the Canadian people, he has silenced my voice. I was ready to engage in a respectful conversation. I, like many people in the West, are not happy with the direction our country is going in. I have long suspected that PM Trudeau cares little for our western voice. This only confirms my suspicions. 

Dear PM Justin Trudeau: Shame on you. I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt. I wanted you to be open to our concerns. I wanted you to care. How disappointing. 

Adrienne Ivey

Dear (man) Farmers: Here Is What To Get Your Wives For Christmas.

1. The gift of Tools From A Tool

For the husbands that have (repeatedly) stolen your wives tools: give them back! Take a tally of all the house, yard, barn and shop tools that you have “borrowed for a second” and never returned. REPLACE THEM!! And for every single one of you that read this and immediately thought “That doesn’t apply to me.” –  I call bullshit! I guarantee that as your wife read it, she immediately thought of 6 things that have disappeared. Off the top of my head, without any real thought given, my list includes: rakes, hoes, hose, buckets, measuring tapes, screw drivers, pruners, horse nippers, lead shanks, PHONE CHARGERS, pitch forks, and many, many more. Replace them. Replace them all. And don’t for one second consider replacing them with those cheap “girl versions” with the pink handles. Just because I have a vagina doesn’t mean I want pink tools. I already have a pink tool. It’s who stole my tools in the first place.(Just kidding Dear!! 😉😉😘😘)  

And because you are a grown-ass man, let me assure you, you don’t need my tools to be pink to know not to steal them. Replace all those that have disappeared into the farm tool abyss, with the promise of a future where you a) ask first, and b) put them back when you are done! 

2. The gift of Gates

I cannot begin to count the times I have been out, miles from nowhere, stuck behind a gate strung so damn tight that Hulk Hogan must be needed to open the damn thing. Words are said. Bad words. Really bad words. Bad words that are directed precisely towards my rancher husband. 

I have a dream. A dream of the Christmas morning that my only gift under the tree is a card. A card that reads: Dear Wife, Because I love you, I have taken the time to personally test every single gate on the ranch this week. I have tested each gate to make sure that not only is every single one easily opened, but also, every electric gate that was incorrectly installed the first time (completely my fault), I have switched so that when you open it, it does not continue to pump mind-numbing, husband hate inducing electricity into your body. Thank you for all you do on our farm. Signed, your silly farmer husband that didn’t get it right in the first place. 

Make this dream happen boys. You will be rewarded. In the best of ways. 

3. The gift of Lube

Get your damn minds out of the gutter!! Maybe this one should be titled “The gift of Servicing Your Wife”. Hmmmm… Maybe that could still use a little work. Here is the deal: I will bale all day long. I will drive combine, I will swath. But there is this: I will not service. Even though I can operate it, I don’t like equipment. Not even a little. Don’t ask me what number the tractor is that I am driving, or where the grease nipples are. Judge me if you want, but then you will have lost an operator forever. 

This is a picture of THE sexiest thing that happened on our farm last year (And Hubs would probably say that there were many). The back window wiper is broken on my baler tractor. Hubs took care of it. (The dust that is. Stopping to fix a wiper blade when it’s dry would never happen!) After completely servicing it. You want to rev your wife’s engines? Grease her nipples!!

Write her a pledge to keep her (equipment!) serviced without ever needing to be asked. 

4. The gift of Travel

There isn’t much that’s hotter than a well deserved, long over-due trip off the farm. Well, there is one thing. Take a trip off the farm, and add the sexiest words known to farmers everywhere…. TAX DEDUCTABLE (Insert longing sigh…). 

The trick guys, is to make sure you do it right. A quick trip into your closest farm show, while rushing back in time for chores isn’t going to score you any points. But, a trip to somewhere DIFFERENT than your usual, combined with a fancy hotel, awesome meals out, and fun with friends? THAT will get you on the scoreboard!

5. The Gift of Time

There is not a farm wife out there that does not at times feel overwhelmed with her life. Keeping up with the demands of the farm, family, possible off farm work, and just plain life can get to the best of us. While you cannot create more time in the year, you can help free up some of hers. 

Christmas time is exceptionally busy, and is the perfect time to chip in BEFORE being asked. Are the lights up? Is the tree up? Is the house suprise-company ready? Yep, you can help with ALL of those things!

How about the other (many) insanely busy times of year? How about “Get out of meals in the field” cards? I have a friend who gave his wife cards that she could use at any point during harvest, and he would make meal arrangements. I don’t mean that he got off the combine or anything, but he hired a local teenager to pick up and deliver pizza to the field. The trick with making this gift awesome is the idea of NO STRINGS ATTACHED. It doesn’t mean that she needs to make up for that meal because MIL stepped in (it is not a gift if you end up owing your Mother In Law a favour). It also doesn’t mean that you need to approve of the reason she isn’t cooking that day. If she’s using her card because she is sitting on the baler, it kinda defeats the purpose. The whole point is to give her some time to do with whatever the heck she wants. Trust me, the more “she time” she gets, the more “private time” you will be rewarded with! 

So boys, there you go. Five awesome Christmas Gift ideas for your deserving farm-wives. And you probably didn’t even have to leave the farm for them. Just don’t forget – even though I said (repeatedly) that this or that is ALL I want for Christmas, I am totally lying. FarmHers are awesome, we deserve it all!!

An Open Letter to Hunters (from a Rancher)

Dear Deer Hunter,

This year during white tail deer hunting season here in Saskatchewan, I encourage you to re-think some of your past ways. As the owner operator of a large cattle ranch, I want you to realize that your actions do have direct consequences for us. Every year we dread the upcoming hunting season, and that is really unfortunate because it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Every single year we have fences run over, gates left open, fences deliberately cut, cattle on the loose, and cattle riled up because of bullets whizzing around them. Again, it doesn’t have to be this way. 

We are in no way against hunting. We understand, perhaps better than anyone, the importance of population control of our wildlife. We have hundreds and hundreds of deer eating at our feed yard over the winter. Trust me, we would much rather those deer be in your deep freeze. Although not hunters ourselves, we understand the sportsmanship of the hunt, but unfortunately a large number of your group are ruining it for all of you. 

Sitting on my front porch drinking coffee means hearing shots fired much too close for comfort. I don’t dare let my kids play in the pasture and I honestly fear for the safety of my husband and hired men as they are out fixing the fence that another hunter drove through the day before. This is no war-torn country, but we need to wear hunters orange to avoid getting shot on our own land. 

I understand that the laws in Saskatchewan protect your right to enter my land to shoot at will, but when does human common courtesy come in? Do you need to post a sign on your lawn asking me not to spin donuts on it? Or asking please don’t chop a hole through my front door so my dog runs away? We spend countless hours every year rounding up loose cattle solely because it was easier for you to drive through my fence than get out of your truck and WALK to shoot that deer. Did you know that when you leave a gate open, it means there is no electricity on the rest of that fence for miles and miles?

The thing is this, it is so easily rectified. There is such a simple solution.  Ask. Ask before you enter my land. Ask where it’s okay to hunt or not. Ask, and I will even tell you where I saw the biggest buck, or where the deer herd has been hanging out. Don’t know who to ask? There is a simple solution for that too!! For a very low price, every RM has maps that show you who owns each piece of land. Easy! If all else fails, stop in at a yard. Most of us can tell you who owns which land, and how to get ahold of them. For all the time and money you put into hunting, surely this is not too much to ask. For those that already do this, thank you! It is both noticed and appreciated. 

I know that our acres and acres of grassland looks like empty “nature” to you urbanites, but in reality, my husband may be just behind that bush fixing fence or treating a sick calf. My livelihood may be just behind that bluff of trees. Do you use your paycheque as target practice? Or your pet dog for that matter?  

So many ranchers grumble and moan about how much they hate hunters, and the saddest part is that it doesn’t have to be this way. I won’t go into your house without asking. Offer me the same courtesy. 


Adrienne Ivey, Rancher  

Easy Peasy Tomato Sauce

If there is one thing that I cannot live without in my freezer (besides beef, of course!), it is my homemade tomato sauce. This recipe is the base for the vast majority of my ground beef recipes. 

Also, it is super easy. Because when it comes to big batch cooking, I am super lazy. And I hate canning. So it needs to be easy, delicious, and freezable. Another bonus – it uses up all the questionable (but pre-moldy) veggies in my fridge that I probably wouldn’t use otherwise. Oh, and the other best part of this recipe? No recipe! I have never once measured what I put in. And it has never failed. Yet. 

Every fall, I make a half a dozen batches of this sauce as my garden tomatoes ripen. I use Roma style tomatoes, because they are less juicy and more meaty, so you don’t have to boil down your sauce for as long, and their sugar content will give you a better tasting sauce. 

Here is what is (very approximately) in my pot today:

  • 12 cups tomatoes
  • 2 cups carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cups red pepper
  • 6 gloves garlic
  • Handful of mushrooms

Other than the mushrooms, this is the standard base. If I didn’t have these things on hand, I would go and buy them. Other veggies I may add include:

  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini 
  • Spicy peppers
  • Kohlrabi 
  • Whatever else cranks your fancy

I chop everything up and throw it in a stock pot. Under medium-low, I bring it to a boil and let it simmer for a couple hours. 

Once it is all smushy, and even the hardest veggie (usually carrots) are soft, transfer to your blender. Yep. Blender. None of those hand crank torture devices known as tomato presses. They suck. And you lose all the really good-for-you fibre in the veggies. And they make a mess. And I am lazy. 

Blend on high for a few minutes until there is not a chunk to be seen. Because eeww, chunks. 

Put back in a pot and add a 1/4 cup or so of Italian spices. I also add my favourite garlic mix, Johnny’s. Add salt, pepper, and a few table spoons of sugar. 

If your tomatos are on the watery side, you may need to low boil until you reach a good consistency. 

Cool, freeze in baggies, and you are done! 

Now you are prepped to make hamburger soup, lasagne, spaghetti and meat sauce, and on and on. 


Environment Canada’s Devisive Take On Farming

Environment Canada recently tweeted a link in honour of World Food Day. It seemed like a nice thing to do, they even said “Thanks Farmers” which seemed sweet. Sweet enough that I was shocked and dismayed when I followed the link to read the tips suggested on how to keep our planet healthy and productive. Two of their suggestions specifically were a slap in the face to the many farmers who not only work extremely hard to raise food for Canadians to eat, but also fund Environment Canada through their taxes. 

I was upset enough to not only tweet them, but also wrote them the email below. If this upsets you too, feel free to do the same. Their contact info is here

Dear Environment Canada,
I recently followed a link you recommended on Twitter regarding how we can each do our part to “keep the planet healthy and productive”. 

As a hardworking farmer, as well as a tax payer who funds your department, I was shocked at the misinformation that your link propagates. Specifically there are two points that I must dispute. 

1) Buy Organic 
There are many types of farming in Canada. While organic has often been portrayed and marketed as the more environmental way, this is absolutely not always the case. Farmers are dependant on the health of their soil and water to continue to not only make a living, but also to keep their farms sustainable to ensure they are able to pass their farm onto the next generation. Environment Canada does absolutely no good in pitting farming methods, as well as farmers themselves, against each other. To feed a growing population, we must have many ways of farming, as well as new technology to improve not only what we grow, but how we grow it. 

2) Diversify Your Diet

“Try to eat an all-veggie meal… instead of one meat meal a week. Millions of acres of rainforest are slashed and burned in order to turn land into grass pastures for livestock including cows.”

The very idea that Environment Canada is endorsing this statement is not only wrong, it is downright slanderous to the thousands of Canadian cattle producers that raise some of the best beef available in the world. We do not cut down our trees here in Canada to raise our beef, in fact treed land is highly sought after to provide shelter from the wind and cold in the winter, as well as provide shade in the summer. Beef production in Canada is some of the most sustainable in the entire world. To endorse the idea that you should refrain from eating meat is in direct conflict with the vast acres of grassland here in Canada that not only provide habitat for countless wildlife and bird populations, but also sequester significant amounts of carbon. These grasslands are also not suitable to grow the options suggested, such as lentils or chickpeas, but provide an excellent capability of turning inedible forage into high quality protein. 
I hope that this tweet was sent before the link was fully vetted and examined. I hope that you did not intend to offend and even belittle the thousands of farmers that will see it. 
I look forward to your response in this matter, and would enjoy any opportunity to further this discussion. 

Adrienne Ivey 

Evergreen Cattle Co.

I understand that the Internet is a vast black hole full of misinformation, but the idea that our very own government is spreading and promoting it is reprehensible to me. They must do better. 

Tisdale’s New Slogan Breaks My Farming Heart

I am so very proud to have grown up on a farm just outside of Tisdale, Saskatchewan. I have always said Tisdale is the perfect sized rural town – small enough to still feel small town, large enough to have all the amenities you really need. Like many Saskatchewan towns, Tisdale thrives on agriculture. The schools are full of farm kids, and the businesses rely on farm families as customers. 

I travel across Western Canada speaking about agriculture, and why farmers need to share their stories with the public. I consider myself to be an Agvocate – someone who speaks positively for agriculture. One of the (many) reasons I still feel so connected to my hometown is that Tisdale, and it’s unconventional slogan, made me an Agvocate long before it was even a word. 

You see, Tisdale’s slogan “Land of Rape and Honey” was always something people talked about. There were great conversations had from Toronto to Saskatoon about it. I have been explaining the connection between rapeseed and canola for decades. 

Rapeseed and its more popular cousin canola (see the difference between the two here), grow incredibly well in the Tisdale area. Grain farmers have grown both crops here with huge success. Rapeseed and Canola are a beautiful yellow flowered crop. And guess who loves flowers? Yep, honeybees. Beekeepers are abundant in the Tisdale area, due in large part to vast fields of rapeseed and canola that the bees thrive on, producing some of the best darn honey in the world! (I may be a little biased here…) 

Tisdale has now changed their slogan. Their Land of Rape and Honey days are over. They have reacted to the questions and side-eye glances by removing the controversy, and it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart because I am a proud farmer. Proud of what I grow and proud to answer any questions about it. It breaks my heart because I am a proud Tisdale girl. Proud of my roots, proud of my homeland, and proud to answer any questions about it. And finally, it breaks my heart because I am a proud marketer. I love all things marketing, and how words can move mountains. And in my mind, this slogan change is not a good marketing move. 

The purpose of a town slogan is to make your town memorable. To make it stand out from the thousands of other small rural communities. I think everyone can agree that Land of Rape and Honey accomplished this. From PEI to BC, I have had people ask where I am from, and when I say Tisdale, more often than not they immediately respond with the infamous slogan. Love it, hate it, understand it or not, Tisdale’s slogan was MEMORABLE. It was unique, applicable, memorable and often spoke of. All things of a perfect marketing campaign. 

Can we say the same about their new slogan? 

ONE – A Conference Like No Other

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to join the EMF Nutrition team to attend their parent company Alltech‘s annual IDEAS conference, ONE. Here on the ranch, we frequently work with EMF Nutrition for our mineral and supplement needs. They are one of many suppliers we lean on to not only keep our cattle healthy, but also lend us their expertise. When I mentioned to our sales rep, Blake Burletoff, how excellent Alltech’s annual conference looked on twitter (last year it was called Rebelation), he jumped on the chance to show me around Lexington, Kentucky and what Alltech and EMF Nutrition are all about.

Going into the trip, I really didn’t know what this annual conference was all about. It seems to have a new name every year – one that goes along with that year’s theme. My expectations were to hear a handful of great speakers, get a whole lot of sales pitches, and see some cool country. I soon learned that there was so much more to it than that.

Another awesome side note of this trip was that I was able to experience it with my Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Mentee, Angela Kumlin (read more about her here.) As part of our planning sessions for the program, Angela had asked me what one conference I would recommend she attend, and I suggested this ONE. Trouper that she is, she did not let the fact that she was 7 months pregnant hold her back from joining me!!

So how exactly was this conference different?


First of all, from the very first opening moment, I was blown away. This was not a conference. It was an EVENT. Who opens an agricultural conference with a Broadway act? Alltech does!


Then there was the networking. There were attendees from all over the world. I don’t mean like Canada and Mexico, I mean EVERYWHERE! I had a long chat about horses with a man from Brazil with a barrel racing daughter. Turns out he was the largest land owner in the country. I chatted about Canada’s beef system of grazing yearlings with a couple of guys from France. I had a quick catch up with Carrie Mess (Dairy Carrie), who I have met at previous agvocate events. There were super interesting people everywhere you looked, and every one of them wanted to chat.


Through it all, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I waited for the sales pitches to start, for the product pushes to shove. Unbelievably, they never came. Now don’t get me wrong, Alltech’s logo was EVERYWHERE. I mean, so burnt into my brain, I still see their orange A logo when I close my eyes. There was a lot of talk about Alltech’s overall direction, and their vision as a company, but zero product push. It was refreshing to allow myself to be inspired by the speakers, without a twist to make the talk fit a specific product.

Beyond their brand recognition, every day of the conference I was left with the impression that the singular goal of the week was to broaden our minds. While I understood  the marketing and sales push deep behind it, the overall message was very inspiring.

“One choice, one idea, one chance, can change your life. It’s choice, not chance, one choice to take that corridor. Help me and help each other to open those doors. If you share your ideas with others, they will conspire to make your dreams come to fruition. Turn on your light. Let’s do it together, but most of all let’s do it, and let’s do it NOW.

– Dr Pearse Lyons (Alltech’s Founder)

I will write more about the amazing speakers I was fortunate enough to listen to there, but to name a few: Alan Mulally (President of Ford), Captain James Lovell (NASA Astronaut, Captain of famous Apollo 13 flight), John Calipari (Head Coach of University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Team) and Steve Wozniak (C0-Founder of Apple).

Jealous yet? You should be! Add in an afternoon at a Steeplechase horse race, touring the Kentucky countryside, and tastings at Alltech’s brewery and distillery, and you get one heck of a great week. Beyond the occasional negative comment on “chemical heavy agriculture” or “antibiotic over-use”, where I had to work really hard to bite my tongue and choose to see the bigger picture (because they was a pretty great bigger picture to see), the week was miles beyond my expectations. I highly recommend you add it to your “some day” list.

Whether you are a farmer (of any kind), work in agriculture, or blog – there is something for you here. Alltech puts together a tour group every year of Canadians who want to join in the fun. And let me tell you, fun will be had!!




Rancher Approved Steak Marinade

You can probably guess that we take our steak real seriously around here. Our entire ranch system revolves around producing the most flavourful, tender, mouthwateringly delicious high end cuts of beef. Because we always have a deep freeze (or two) full of beef, you can bet we spend a fair number of summer afternoons barbecuing. Steak is most definitely not reserved for special occasions around here! 

For company, and special occasions, I kick our steak BBQ up a notch with this fail safe teriyaki marinade. Seriously, I have never met anyone who doesn’t love it. This is my most asked for recipe, hands down. If you BBQ steak, you need to try it. 

First off, start with good beef! Here in Canada, Canada Prime is tops for quality, but will cost you significant $$. The next level of quality, and more easy to find is Canada AAA. It will be well marbled, and from a young animal. If you are grilling beef, it is really worth it to buy high quality. 

What about the cut? Choosing the correct cut of steak is as important as the quality. This marinade will tenderize as well as flavour the meat, but it cannot work miracles. Round steak is best left to braising or slow cooking. Rib steaks are so heavily marbled, they are rich and full of flavour with just salt and pepper. I use this recipe on tenderloins (they are tender on their own, but lean, so can use the extra flavour), sirloins (to tenderize and flavour), and tbones (which are a combo of sirloin and tenderloin). If you want to know more about cuts, check out Canada Beef’s website here

The recipe:

In a medium sized pot mix the following on medium heat:

  • 1c soy sauce 
  • 1c white vinegar 
  • 1c brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp corn starch. 

Mix thoroughly, cook until it bubbles and thickens. 

Let cool and then pour over steaks. 

Marinate for at least 2 hrs. I usually leave them in the fridge overnight. 

Then grill ’em up!! 


And to give credit where credit is due: like many great things in the country, this awesome recipe came from family friends and farm neighbours, Sharon Walker. A grain farming family to boot! And now, I gotta go. I have a juicy steak calling my name….


Earls Restaurants Has Opened the Door to Canadian Beef… Now What?

My Twitter feed exploded this morning with the news of Earls latest beef announcement:

“We made a mistake when we moved away from Canadian beef.” says Earls President, Mo Jessa.”We want to make this right. We want Canadian beef back on our menus so we are going to work with local ranchers to build our supply of Alberta beef that meets our criteria.”

See their full press release here.

This comes after an uproar over Earls decision to source all of its beef supply from Kansas based Creekstone Farms, in order to “Ethically Source” from a Certified Humane supplier who was also 100% antibiotic and added hormone free. I wrote about this decision last week here. Cattle producers across Canada were outraged by the insinuation that Canadian beef is not raised humanely. The hashtag #boycottearls was born, and farmers and consumers united to show Earls just how important Canadian beef is to them.

When I first heard the news, I did the kind of awkward happy dance that you pray that no one will ever see. The idea that the Canadian beef community not only has a voice, but also how incredibly supportive Canadian consumers were (and are!) filled my heart with joy. Knowing that my voice helped create this change was icing on the cake. But me being me, I had to look closer at what this actually means.

Earls posted this on the their Facebook page:

Earls fans, we’re listening to you. We made a mistake and we’re sorry. It was wrong to move away from Canadian Beef and we want to make it right. Earls will get Canadian Beef back on the menu. We are going back to Aspen Ridge and will work hard to source as much â€Ș#‎CanadianBeef‬ that meets our criteria as possible.

For anyone that read my post that went a little viral last week, you will know that my biggest beef (no pun intended!) with Earls’ decision was the lack of integrity in their marketing. Conciously using words like “Humane”, putting emphasis on “antibiotics and added hormones”, instead of postive promotion of great food, is what is what I had issues with. From their statement above, this has not changed. They say that Canadian beef will be back on their menus, but are only willing to work with one small supplier in order to maintain their marketing buzz word sourcing. Earls themselves have said that Aspen Ridge cannot supply enough beef to fully service even one of their Alberta restaurants. Can we consider this move of opening the door a crack to allow a small amount of Canadian beef into their restaurants meaningful change? Or just more meaningless marketing jargon? Only time will tell.

Admitting you are wrong is never easy, and is a huge step for any company. I give full credit to Earls for taking that first step. But that is not the end. This is one win in the war against fear based marketing.

Earls has opened the door, just a crack, to Canadian beef. It is now our job as Canadian beef producers to open that door wider, engage in meaningful conversations with both Earls and consumers, and discuss the realities and truths of Canadian beef production. Let’s not let this storyline ride off into the sunset – we need to keep up the important work of talking with consumers and restaurants alike about how and why we are raising the best darn beef available in the world.

cows sunset

See the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association statement here

This Canadian Rancher’s Take on Earls’ Beef Campaign 

Earls Kitchen and Bar has set the Canadian farming world all a-twitter.  The restaurant chain has recently launched a new marketing campaign promoting their latest development in beef  – “Certified Humane” raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones and steroids.


I don’t (didn’t) mind Earls as a dining option. Up until now, they sourced their beef for their 56 Canadian restaurants here, in Canada. They have great summertime patios, and they make fantastic Caesars. Their head office is in Vancouver, and their first ever location was started in 1982 in Edmonton, Alberta. Sounds good, right? Then suddenly their marketing took a turn that just doesn’t sit right with me.

Their first words of their sourcing strategy label their beef as “Certified Humane”, which struck immediate warning bells for me. As a beef producer, I have had the opportunity to visit and tour MANY cattle farms. I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the vast majority of Canadian Beef farms and ranches are raising their cattle in a humane way. We are ranchers for a reason – we like working with animals every day. I have no issue with weeding out the “bad apples” that are bound to turn up in any industry, but these bad farmers are so uncommon, I cannot imagine the need to base your entire purchasing decision around them. I visited the website and most specifically their producer page. On the page directed towards the farmers who would use their certification process, there was zero information on what they considered “humane”, zero mention of how becoming certified humane would benefit a farmer’s animals, zero mention of ways to make a farm more humane for it’s animals. So what was the producer page for? Sales. It was touted as a way to sell more product. End of story. Andrew Campbell wrote an article for Real Agriculture about what exactly certified humane means… not much. To top this one off – Canada already has steps to make sure our animals are raised humanely. The Canadian Beef Code of Practices is something each and every one of us take pride in, something we follow because it is the right thing to do, not because we get paid more money for it.

So there’s that. I moved on a few words to “without the use of antibiotics”. This is perhaps the most terrifying marketing catch phrase in my mind. Why? Because this directly impacts animal welfare. I fully believe that healthy animals begin with prevention. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is completely true. The problem is that all sickness cannot be eradicated with prevention alone. Just like people, animals get sick sometimes, it’s a fact of life. Any program that rewards the decision to withhold medication has the potential to have a huge negative impact on animal welfare. Last year, Subway in the USA announced it was going to start sourcing only meat raised without the use of antibiotics. There was an uproar from the agricultural community, explaining the need for (and ethics in using) antibiotics. Subway soon saw the error in their strategy, and reversed their decision. Perhaps Earls could learn something from this. I will stand by the fact that just as I would with my children, if an animal on our ranch falls ill, I will give it the necessary medicine. It would be cruel if I didn’t.

And finally, “no added hormones or steroids”. This I have spoken about many times. With the use of proven  safe methods, including hormones, Canadian farmers are now able produce MORE beef (32% more), while using significantly LESS resources (24% less land and 29% less breeding stock), and creating a significantly SMALLER environmental footprint (15% less greenhouse gasses). I wrote about this HERE. Can we produce beef without hormone implants? Sure. But why choose to do less with more if it is a proven, safe, efficient method? To learn more about hormone use in beef read here or here.

To top all of this information off, Earls has switched from using Canadian Beef to sourcing 100% of their beef from one operation (Creekstone Farms) in Kansas. While there is nothing wrong with that in itself, it does make me wonder about how consistent Earls quality of choice cuts, like steak, could possibly be. Many restaurants that serve top quality beef will go with a large suppliers top label. Cargill, for example, has their Sterling Beef brand – which has quality specifications (marbeling, grade and aging) so high that under 12 percent of the beef through their plant is accepted. That is a HUGE amount of beef that is sorted through to chose only the best. If you are starting out with a much smaller number, your top percentage will reflect that. Even beef that was raised and fed the same will have large differences in quality – it is an issue within the beef industry. I cannot understand why a restaurant like Earls would choose to limit their options in this way. oh, and did I mention that said Creekstone Farms, while has some feel – good marketing surrounding it, is actually owned by Sun Capital Partners. From their twitter profile: Sun Capital Partners is a leading private investment firm focused on leveraged buyouts, private equity, debt and other investments in market-leading companies. Now don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with outside investment in agriculture, just as much as I believe large farms can be as great as small farms, but that sentence (of truth) gives you a completely different feeling than their logo must intend.


So all of this makes me wonder. It makes me question when restaurants and retailers will start marketing their food based on true quality, not catch phrases and gimmicks. When will real, honest, good food win out? Because there is one thing I know about great steak – it speaks for itself.

Adrienne Ivey – Canadian Rancher, Mom and Blogger