May 7, 2020

Episode #12: There’s a crisis in our beef industry, so what do we do about it?

UPDATE: Since the recording of this show, the provincial government has announced a $42 million joint federal-provincial set-aside program for a period of 30 weeks. More information can be found on the Government of Alberta’s website.

Alberta is home to 70-75% of Canada’s total livestock processing capacity. That means nearly three-quarters of Canada’s meat supply is processed right here in Alberta. However, COVID-19 outbreaks in two of Alberta’s biggest processing plants have all but halted production.

In the weeks since this situation began in early April, severe labour shortages, plant closures and a building backlog of cattle has not only collapsed the price of cattle but put producers and feedlot operators in serious financial trouble and the food supply chain in a precarious situation.

Dr. Kee Jim is the Managing Director of Feedlot Health, one of North America’s most sought-after feedlot consulting organizations. As a world-renowned expert in the livestock industry, Dr. Jim provides his perspective on the events that have led to the current situation.

We then dive into the mechanisms and benefits of a set-aside program, which proved to be an effective solution during the 2003 BSE crisis. We also touch on the response so far from the federal and provincial governments and why it is vital to the sustainability of the industry that a set-aside program be implemented immediately.

The episode closes with a note of optimism as Dr. Jim shares his outlook on the agri-food industry and the vital role it will play in Alberta’s economic recovery.

In This Episode:

  • Events that have led to the current crisis, where the situation stands today nad the economics of the industry
  • How a set-aside program works and its history during the BSE crisis
  • Response to current government support and response to the situation
  • Outlook for agri-food industry as businesses and government prepare to re-launch economies

Key Takeaways:

  • While the beef industry is experiencing signficant pressure right now, there is lots of opportunity for the agri-food indsutry to provide the food, jobs and prosperity both now as we live through this pandemic and through the rcovery.

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