A herdshare program is an opportunity for consumers to become more directly involved in the production and processing of their food than what a more conventional and commercial system would allow. By purchasing a share in the herd, the shareholder will then own a portion of a specific herd of beef animals. The shareholder enters into a contract with the herd manager whereby the manager commits to feeding, boarding and caring for the live animals within the herd in return for payment. When the animals are fattened, the herd manager will then provide the labour to slaughter, cut and wrap, freeze and deliver the meat to the shareholder. The shareholder will be required to compensate the herd manager for these services. As the manager has no ownership in the animals, the shareholder need not purchase the meat which they will receive.
Herd share programs act to protect the herd manager from liability in that they have no ownership over the animals. The animals belong solely to the shareholders and the shareholders are simply eating meat from their own herd. It is important to understand that being relieved of liability does not create opportunity for malpractice, rather it facilitates transparency in the operation. All shareholders are entitled to personally view the farm and butchering facility and be informed of the intricacies of the processing of their meat. This acts to ensure safe and responsible farming practices.
It is crucial for the shareholder to understand that the animals are pasture slaughtered and that the meat from the herd is aged and processed in an inspected meat processing facility.
The trial Judge in R. v. Imperial Tobacco Products Ltd. stated: “Public means that vast multitude which includes the ignorant, the unthinking, and the credulous.” As we interpret it, the government has an inherent, as well as an exclusive jurisdiction to govern and protect the public. So it begs the question: what about the private realm?
Non-government inspected meat cannot be offered to the public. Doing so would be contrary to Alberta’s public policy. However, by way of private ownership, associations and agreements, where the individual is educated and informed about the risks associated with the food, choice can occur. By taking personal responsibility, one can waive the benefit of protection offered by “the government”. It is by virtue of a private agreement that uninspected pasture-slaughtered meat can be enjoyed without contravening existing public policy.
In the event of animal’s death, how is my share affected?
It must be understood that farming is a seasonal and unpredictable undertaking. In the event of an animal death, the production of the whole herd is down and the distribution of meat to shareholders will decrease proportionally.
As a shareholder you have a vested interest in the well being of your herd. In the unlikely event of a death in the herd, a proportional decrease is designed to evenly distribute the loss over the remaining animals in the herd. The amount of meat received will be slightly decreased and this will be reflected in the balance paid upon delivery.
5 fat steers = approx. 1625 lbs of cut and wrapped meat.
- Divided by 40 half shares = 40.6 lbs/share
*if one animal dies, there will remain*
4 fat steers = approx. 1300 lbs of cut and wrapped meat
- Divided by 40 shares = 32.5 lbs/share