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Cattle Rack Rancher

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Record sized CDN cattle herd


OTTAWA - Canadian beef producers were feeding a million more head of cattle in mid-2004 than was the case a year earlier, largely because exports collapsed after the discovery of a single case of mad cow disease in Alberta.
Canada's exports of live cattle and beef meat virtually collapsed after the United States and several other countries imposed an import ban on the products in May 2003.
As a consequence, the Canadian cattle herd grew by 6.5 per cent to a record 16.8 million head as of July 1, according to a livestock survey by Statistics Canada of 18,000 farmers, beef and dairy producers.
Not surprisingly, the growers' revenues plunged at the same time.
In 2002, Canada exported 1.7 million head of cattle, worth $1.8 billion. After the border closed in May 2003, cattle exports plunged to 505,689 head and were valued at $591 million. Those numbers represented less than 30 per cent of the previous year's levels.
When you add in shipments of beef as well as live cattle, total exports were valued at $3.9 billion in 2002, the equivalent of $11 million in sales each day.
But in the year following the border closure, calculated from June 2003 to May 2004, the total value of cattle and beef exports fell 65 per cent, to about $1.4 billion.
Exports of live animals in 2004 are non-existent so far, as the border remains closed, Statistics Canada said in the report.
Canadian farmers' cash receipts for cattle and calves during the third and fourth quarters of 2003 were cut in half, tumbling to $2.0 billion from the $3.9 billion recorded for the same period in 2002.
But government aid programs helped cushion the shock for farmers, according to Statistics Canada. The main program, the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Recovery Program, is estimated to have paid $443 million to producers between July and December 2003.
The report came as the Canadian Cattleman's Association used its annual convention to unveil a new plan to strengthen livestock prices depressed by BSE.
The association says the proposed program, under which ranchers would hold back market-ready cattle for up to four months and hand over unproductive animals for BSE testing and disposal, could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
If governments agreed to fund the program, producers would receive compensation for holding back cattle from the markets, and would also be paid up to $150 a head for older or unuseable specimens.
 

CattleAnnie

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Nice big hole in the CCA proposed program being what to do with fall calves, or do they fall into the 'market ready' category? If so, would love to know how the producer is expected to overwinter their calves with no other income besides the compensation of their cull cows (usually 10% of most herds). Also, where does the person who traditionally sells their calves in the fall come up with the facilities and feed to hold these animals? In our own situation, we would have to carry over an additional 200+ head of stock. In one word - impossible. We simply have neither the land base or the financial resources to do this.

I'd love to see the exact figures on where this reported aid money of $443 million went. I find it very difficult to believe that it went into the pockets of the producers. Especially after the figures were released to the public regarding the 281% NET PROFIT of the big Packers this last year. Also $150.00 (top end compensation) for a cull cow is still so far off the ten year average that it seems assinine to tout it as fair compensation.

Sometimes it seems that these people have their heads so far up their butts that they can't remember what daylight looks like. No matter how many roses they throw onto the grave, the smell of our dying industry still reeks to high heaven. Do I sound disenchanted? You better believe it.

I've made calls and sent correspondence to MPs, MLAs, Ministers of Agriculture (both Federal and Provincial) and all I hear is "trust us, we're working on a solution" and "we're still counting on the border being opened soon". Big whoop-de-do...well over a year later and still no rational course of action in the works. Some progress. And when the fall run of calves starts up next month, the cow plop is really going to hit the fan. How on earth do they think that those of us in this industry will hang in for another year? How many ranchers hanging from their lariats in the barn alleyway will it take before our government will give us a quarter of the attention that corporations like Bombardier and Air Canada have received? How many bankrupted peripheral industries like the tractor dealerships, livestock haulers and auction markets will it take?

I weep for my fellow ranchers. End of bitter rant.
 

Texan

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Very articulate and well said, Annie. As usual, so no surprises there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Better luck to all of you!
 
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Cattle Rack Rancher

Cattle Rack Rancher

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Annie:

I'm sorry to hear about your dire straits. I feel that I am very fortunate to have the majority of my income coming from my off farm job. I have problems, financially, like every one else up here but not quite to the same degree. I don't know if you subscribe to the Canadian Cattlemen Magazine but they have a good article in there this month on Plan 'B'. They expect that by the fall of 2005, there should be enough increased slaughter capacity, that the backlog of cattle will be a non-issue. I already know that its going to be a painful fall this year no matter what. But, I truly believe if we can hold on a little longer, we'll be okay.
All the best to you.
 

CattleAnnie

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Thanks again, CRR and Texan. Sorry about the angry tone on the above post...just a little tired and wore out that night and kinda ended up writing that nasty rant. Will try harder to be more objective in the future.

Take care.
 

Bez

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Having a tough time being objective.

Bankers have shut down three long time operations here in the past month.

Those darned heavy Canadian subsidies the world seems to be talking about are having the desired effect. The whole 500 bucks I have seen this year went to buying a belt and a couple of bearings for my discbine.

February and we are out of business. No sense digging any deeper than we have to - we're already in pretty deep - we just want to hold onto the land for now.

Just tired and beat up tonight.

Bez
 

CattleAnnie

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Hey Bez,
Hang in there, buds. I really feel for you, and believe me, I know where you're coming from regarding the so-called subsidies and aid programs. What a run-around! And for what? A few hundred dollars after losing tens of thousands last year? Bah humbug!

I fully intend to get on the horn tomorrow a.m. and give the CCA and the Ag department Ministers a reality check regarding the practicality of backgrounding our calves (not! c'mon, we're just barely out of a drought and were cleaned out of all surplus feed a few years back when AB was experiencing a drought, so even given a subsidy to buy feed first there would have to be feed available to purchase) and also I'd like to discover how we are to meet our financial obligations given that these wonderful subsidies take up to six months to arrive (IF you qualify) while the utility companies and service bills certainly don't want to wait six months for their services to be paid for... not to mention the fact that people have to eat. Oh right, that's what raising beef is supposed to accomplish - feeding the people. Just apparently not the ranchers, eh?

Anyway, here's a link to the CCA's proposed solution for this fall.

http://www.cattle.ca/newsroom/NewsCurre ... 0FINAL.pdf

(Warning: this is a pdf document so it may take a while for you to download and open it, however it is nice to be able to read the latest proposed plan of action direct from the source.)

Hang in there, Bez.
Like the old Latin saying goes, 'Illegitimus Non Carborundum' or 'Nil Carborundum Illigittium' if you prefer. Either way it's worth living by - Don't Let The Bastards Grind You Down!

Take care.
 

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