April 13, 2020
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is recommending the immediate reinstatement of a set-aside program that was implemented during the BSE era to address the challenges with beef processing capacity being created by COVID-19.
The CCA says it’s in discussions with the federal government about implementing the program to encourage producers to hold cattle longer when processing capacity isn’t available. The program was originally developed and implemented when export markets, including the U.S., closed to Canadian cattle and beef after the discovery of a positive case of BSE in 2003.
“We learned many lessons during the hard years of BSE, and it is time to implement the policies that previously helped us weather the storm,” says Bob Lowe, President of the CCA, in a statement issued late Monday (April 13.)
Cargill’s High River, Alta., beef plant is one of the latest on a growing list of North American meat processing plants to slow down or shut down completely due to COVID-19 risks among employees. Cargill has slowed the plant down to one shift as of this week, limiting the number of cattle processed to roughly 1,500 per day. The plant regularly slaughters 4,000 to 4,500 per day with two shifts, and represents 36 percent of Canada’s total beef processing capacity.
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