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Alberta

Abbotsford commercial poultry flock latest to test positive for avian flu in B.C.

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ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — Avian flu has been found in a commercial flock in the Fraser Valley, the same area where 80 per cent of British Columbia’s poultry farms are located. 

B.C.’s Ministry of Agriculture says in a statement the infected farm has been placed under quarantine by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and producers within a 10-kilometre radius have been sent notices about the discovery. 

Previous outbreaks in the Fraser Valley have prompted culls of millions of birds, although poultry groups now say they have tight control measures to prevent the spread from one farm to the next. 

The inspection agency’s website says the H5N1 virus has been found in several wild birds and nine flocks across the province, starting at a commercial farm in the North Okanagan on April 13. 

The agency says it presumes the flu spreads through contact with infected migrating wild birds and it advises owners to reduce human access to their flocks, while increasing cleaning of clothing and footwear when entering barns. 

B.C. recently extended its order for all commercial poultry operators with more than 100 birds to keep their flocks indoors until June 13. 

Avian flu cases have been confirmed in several other provinces, but no infections have been detected in humans.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2022.

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Alberta

Saskatchewan ranchers call for investigation into retail meat pricing

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REGINA — A group of Canadian ranchers is calling for an investigation into meat pricing.

The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association says it’s asking the provincial and federal governments to look into what it calls an “imbalance” between the price ranchers receive for the cattle and the price consumers pay at the meat counter.

The group says many ranchers and feedlots are operating at a loss this year. Grass is still scarce on the Prairies due to last summer’s drought, and the cost of feed grain and fuel has skyrocketed since last year.

But packers and retailers are reporting strong profits this year. The Stock Growers say they believe slaughterhouses may be intentionally running fewer shifts to in order to keep wholesale beef prices high and allow fed cattle supplies to build up in the countryside.

In the U.S., the Biden administration has already expressed concerns about rising meat prices and vowed to implement policies aimed at increasing competition in the meat-packing sector.

According to Statistics Canada, the retail price of beef is up 11.2 per cent year-over-year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

First test production of plastic a milestone for Heartland Petrochemical Complex

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CALGARY — The $4.3-billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex, which has been under construction northeast of Edmonton since 2018, has produced its first plastic pellets.

Owner and operator Inter Pipeline Ltd. said Tuesday the newly commissioned facility has been producing test pellets steadily since late June, an important milestone en route to the expected start of full commercial operation sometime this fall.

The Heartland Petrochemical Complex will convert Alberta propane into 525,000 tonnes per year of polypropylene beads, an easily transported form of plastic that is used in the manufacturing of a wide range of finished products.

Steven Noble, spokesman for Calgary-based Inter Pipeline, said the facility will be the first integrated propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene production facility in North America. He said approximately 70 per cent of Heartland’s total production capacity has been already contracted out to long-term customers.

“Through the duration of the project’s construction, we’ve seen demand for polypropylene increase significantly … including at one point hitting an all-time record (market price),” Noble said in an interview. “The demand that we initially forecast certainly hasn’t gone away.”

The Heartland facility is being built with the support of a $408-million grant from Alberta’s provincial government. The cash grant, part of an incentive program aimed at growing the province’s petrochemicals sector, is to be paid to Inter Pipeline in equal instalments over three years once the complex is operational.

Noble said by creating a new market for propane, the Heartland facility is an example of how natural resource development in Alberta is diversifying.

“The fact that we’re now looking at our raw resources in a different way, and figuring out different ways to get value out of them and create other refined products right here at home … is really the part of the story that everyone here is excited about,” he said.

The Heartland Petrochemical Complex is expected to employ 300 people once fully operational.

The polypropylene produced at the facility will be branded as Heartland Polymers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2022.

Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press

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