COVID-19 further reduces North American beef processing capacity: CCA recommends immediate implementation of policies to manage these difficult times

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Source: Canadian Cattlemen’s Association

COVID-19 continues to negatively impact the North American beef industry through market volatility and interruptions to processing operations. A further significant blow was dealt today with the announcement that the Cargill plant in High River, Alberta will be idling operations. While they have indicated that this is a temporary move, the industry must be prepared that this stoppage has the potential to go on for an extended period of time. The JBS plant in Brooks, Alberta has also reduced their processing capabilities due the challenges brought forth by COVID-19. Together, these plants comprise nearly 80 per cent of Canada’s overall beef processing capabilities.

“The assistance measures announced by the Federal Government are far from adequate to help beef producers navigate through this critical situation,” notes Bob Lowe, President of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. “Any further delay in implementing policies to help us manage through these difficult times will be crippling to the industry. We are facing a challenge every bit as devastating as BSE for the Canadian beef industry and we are doing so without sufficient risk management tools.”

Economic scenarios show that the industry is facing additional revenue losses that could reach upwards of $500 million dollars by the end of June depending on how far market prices decline. Losses of this magnitude would be catastrophic for the 60,00 beef operations and 228,800 people in Canada who depend on the beef industry to provide for their families. Sufficient business risk management tools, implemented without delay, will be paramount to ensuring Canadian beef production can manage through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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