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New ad campaign seeks to rebuild confidence in beef

Alberta beef producers have unveiled a new ad campaign to assure the industry of the safety of provincially produced beef.  The launch comes after years of rebuilding the industry following the effects of BSE in Canada and borders closed to exports in 2003.

August 6, 2008  By

August 6, 2008

Alberta's beef industry unveiled a new slogan Monday, "Raised Right," conjuring up images of Black Angus cattle grazing in the province's scenic fields.

But producers acknowledge that roughly 25 percent of the animals actually come from B.C. and Saskatchewan.


"They raise the cattle in Saskatchewan, they come here to feed and finish and they get butchered in our plants here in Alberta," Roy Ekhert, a spokesperson for Alberta Beef Producers, told CTV News.

"Alberta has the bulk of the kill capacity so we consider that to be Alberta beef."

Alberta Agriculture Minister George Groeneveld agreed, saying it was more important where the cattle spent their final months than where they were born.

"I guess it's not totally Alberta beef if not born here, but it was fed here," he said.

Groeneveld added that he doesn't believe the industry needs tougher standards for labelling its products as Alberta beef.

The new slogan is meant to re-energize an industry that has weathered trade restrictions because of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as "mad cow disease," and bouts of dry weather.

In May 2003, a cow originating from an Alberta ranch was confirmed to be infected with BSE. Major trading partners like the United States, Mexico and Japan shut their borders to Canadian beef exports.

The US border remained closed to live Canadian cattle sales for more than two years, costing the industry billions of dollars in lost revenue.

On Monday, the industry honoured ranchers who kept producing Alberta beef throughout those tough times, erecting monuments with the new slogan.

"It's been a challenging number of years. First the drought, then the BSE when we were shut out of a number of export markets, and so on," said Eckert.

"The bulk of our product was consumed right here in Canada. This is to recognize the work being done by the farmers and ranchers and feedlot owners. All the people in that chain."

Brian Lane, a fourth-generation cattle producer, was philosophical about the obstacles his fellow ranchers have faced.

"I knew it would come back eventually, although it took a while," he said. "Like everything else, there are downturns in the business."

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