Beef, Pork Crisis Threatens Region

CANADA - A crisis in beef farming is intensifying, even though a three-year ban on exporting Canadian cattle to the United States finally has been lifted.
calendar icon 20 November 2007
clock icon 3 minute read
Yesterday, the first Canadian cattle older than 30 months, along with breeding cattle, crossed the Canadian border into the US.

At the same time, Ontario cattle and hog farmers are getting such poor prices that many will find it tough to stay afloat.

"I firmly believe that 30 to 35 per cent of beef farmers are going to be gone because of the pricing issue," said Jim Clark, executive director of the Woodstock-based Ontario Cattle Feeders Association.

That's heartening, especially to cattle breeders, who haven't been able to export south of the border since May 2003. But beef prices have dropped by one-third since spring.

"This crisis now is worse than at (the time of) BSE," McKillop said. Feedlot operators, cow-calf operations and processors are affected.

During the last six months, McKillop estimates the Ontario beef industry has lost $100 million. That's been a loss of $400 to $500 an animal.

At the same time, the rising Canadian dollar has made it easier for retailers to import US beef. Government regulations about safety and processing also have become more stringent and feed and fertilizer costs keep rising.

Canadian pork prices also are at their lowest in years. Thousands of hog farmers have called it quits during the last few years and Ontario Pork, the industry's marketing arm, said last week it's cutting its office staff by 25 per cent.

Source: London Free Press
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