July 29, 2020 / 8:31 PM / 16 days ago

Canadian province of Alberta loosens animal slaughter rules after pandemic hit packers

FILE PHOTO: A small herd of cattle stand in a dry pasture on the Canadian prairies near Rockyford, Alberta, June 30, 2009. REUTERS/Todd Korol

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canada’s main cattle-producing province, Alberta, said on Wednesday it would allow the slaughter of animals on farms for meat sales to consumers, loosening regulations after the coronavirus pandemic interrupted production at its biggest packing plants.

Alberta previously restricted the consumption of meat from animals slaughtered outside of government-inspected plants to farmers and their households. Some farmers and mobile butchers, who travel from farm to farm, wanted the provincial government to ease the regulations to be more in line with those in other western Canadian provinces.

Under revised regulations that took effect on Wednesday, the meat from animals killed by mobile butchers and farmers licensed to carry out uninspected slaughter can be sold directly by farmers to the public, said Agriculture Ministry spokesman Justin Laurence.

Such meat cannot be sold in stores.

Coronavirus outbreaks interrupted production this spring at several Alberta beef plants, leaving feedlots with a backlog of slaughter-ready cattle and boosting retail meat prices.

“Alberta beef producers have been asking for increased processing capabilities for several years and this is a positive step forward,” said Kelly Smith-Fraser, a rancher and chair of Alberta Beef Producers.

Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Peter Cooney

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