State of the Canadian cattle industry

The Canadian cattle industry is paying close attention to trade relations after President Trump suggested ending live cattle imports to the U.S.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Canada exported over 700,000 cattle to the U.S. in 2019. Canadian cattle to the U.S. are slated to continue under the USMCA trade agreement scheduled to take effect on July 1st of this year.

Dennis Laycraft, Executive VP of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, said that he does not believe the comment was directed at Mexico or Canada, but he said that people in his office took notice.

“Certainly got our attention immediately,” Laycroft said. “He wants to see the Canada, U.S. and Mexico trading relationship continue to move forward. So, we’re watching it very closely.”

Prime Minster Trudeau recently announced the Canada Emergency Business Account Program (CERB) for small businesses, the same day American farmers were told of the billions going to them in crisis funding. Earlier this month, the Canadian government announced crisis funding of $252 million dollars for the ag sector, with half earmarked for red meat.

The Prime Minister stated, “To help cattle and hog producers, we will launch a $125 million dollar national agri-recovery initiative so that they can adapt to this crisis. This is an initial investment and if we need to add more, we will.”

Dennis Laycraft was asked if farmers’ inclusion in the CERB program is seen as a second investment step by the government.

“It’s helpful...But no, we certainly believe there are other important investments that could be made that would help Canadian agriculture get through this.”

Canadian officials are also allowing temporary inter-provincial movement of meat and poultry products to help alleviate meat shortages during the pandemic. Normally, only federally inspected products can cross province lines.