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Agriculture

Canada’s Feedlots Facing an Uncertain Future

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Canada’s Feedlots Facing an Uncertain Future

The coronavirus has taken a huge toll on the North American meat industry. As the virus continues to claim the lives of workers and workplace conditions become unsafe, many meat processing plants simply haven’t been able to adequately staff their facilities. Subsequently, many plants and feedlots — including leading brands in Alberta — have temporarily shut down operations.

Other big names that haven’t experienced outbreaks in their facilities have managed to remain open or at least reopen and function at a lower capacity. However, even these cattle feedlots and processing plants are facing an uncertain future as the pandemic drags on.

A Dip in Demand

In addition to facility outbreaks, a dip in demand for pork, poultry and beef has also resulted in major setbacks for feedlots and slaughterhouses. Since officials issued stay-at-home orders three months ago, restaurants and butchers haven’t been ordering as much meat from big-industry meat processors. Instead, with no guests to serve or customers to whom they might sell prime cuts, these businesses have dramatically cut their orders.

Of course, the meat industry wasn’t expecting this sudden decrease in demand. As cows continued to birth calves and inventory built up in feedlots, these companies were left with no other choice than to cull thousands of animals per day and discard the carcasses. Obviously, this represents a massive amount of waste as well as a huge loss of profit.

Selling Calves

Many small farmers and large industrial developments also worry they’ll lose money this fall when it comes time to sell calves. These cow-calf operations usually generate a decent amount of revenue when the economy is good. In light of recent events, however, market conditions aren’t exactly prime for selling calves.

Moreover, as feedlots reach and exceed maximum capacities, the animals will most likely become more anxious. This increase in stress levels will negatively impact their immune systems and, ultimately, the quality of meat that comes from them. Consequently, this fall’s herd may not be as healthy as the last, meaning they’ll sell for much less and leave feedlots and meat processors in the red.

Assistance and Adjustments

Early last month, the Canadian government announced it would provide $252 million in federal assistance to the agri-food sector. The vast majority of this federal aid will go to processing plants in hopes of better-protecting workers and helping facilities function at full capacity once again. Still, as long as demand is low, it’s unlikely the industry will bounce back quickly — even with financial assistance. At best, this money will help keep the industry afloat until restaurants and eateries fully reopen.

Additionally, meat processing plants that have remained open or resumed operations are beginning to consciously cut their inventory and production output to meet the decrease in demand. While this will help the meat industry, it may cause issues for fast-food chains and restaurants that may experience shortages as a result.

Is the Worst Yet to Come?

Over the past few weeks, some major meat processors and cattle feedlots have begun to reopen. Already, they’re back to processing 60,000 cattle per week. However, prices aren’t rising for consumers, thus showcasing the resiliency of the Canadian food system. In the coming months, bottlenecks should stop and business should be able to return to normal — as long as a second and third wave of coronavirus cases don’t sweep the nation.

In the future, the meat industry might invest more in expanding local and regional food supply chains. This way, if Cargill, National Beef, JBS and Tyson — which own more than 80% of the beef supply — shut down again, small ranchers could provide meat for their communities. Thus, the industry wouldn’t face such an uncertain future if another pandemic were to occur.

Canadian Federal Government Taking Measures to Reduce Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

I’m Emily Folk, and I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. Growing up I had a love of animals, and after countless marathons of watching Animal Planet documentaries, I developed a passion for ecology and conservation.

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Agriculture

Daryl McIntyre talks Equine health Thursday at 7PM on the “Raised With Care” sessions

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“…The more we know about our animals and our responsibilities to them, the better care we can provide. This, in turn, helps produce a better product and a stronger industry…” Alberta Veterinary Medicine Association

The Raised With Care sessions are a series of live-streaming interactive conversations with Alberta livestock owners about stewardship strategies that contribute positively to antimicrobial stewardship and animal welfare.

The sessions will explore four main areas of animal health: Vaccines, Healthy Facilities, Identifying Issues in Animal, and Impact of the relationship with veterinarians, veterinary technologists and the team at veterinary practices.

“We are talking equine health on Thursday with Dr. Greg Evans,” says host Daryl McIntyre.  “The focus is on anti-microbial (anti-biotic) stewardship and general horse health.”

Schedule:

Sept 10 | 7PM – Equine

Sept 17 | 7PM– Apiculture

Sept 24 | 7PM– Dairy

Oct 1 | 7PM – Small Ruminant Animals

Oct 8 | 7PM-Poultry

Oct 15 | 7PM– Pork

Oct 22 | 7PM– Backyard Agriculture

Oct 29 | 7PM– Companion Animals

This is an interactive session and there will be an opportunity to comment and ask questions.
Learn more at raisedwithcare.caClick here for the link to the live session.
The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association is responsible for ensuring that all veterinarians and veterinary technologists in the province are qualified to practice veterinary medicine. The primary mandate of the Association is to ensure that the public is receiving quality veterinary service.
These are presented by ABVMA (Alberta Veterinary Medical Association)
Read more on Todayville.
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Agriculture

Experience Alberta Agriculture with Open Farm Days 2020

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Open Farm Days returns to Alberta this Saturday and Sunday for its 8thannual provincial agriculture event. Hosted by the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies in partnership with the province and Travel Alberta, Alberta Open Farm Days is an invitation from farmers, ranchers and brewers across the province for locals to come experience a day in agriculture. 

Alberta is home to 31.3% of the total farmland across Canada, and the Alberta agriculture industry employs more than 50,000 people throughout the province. On August 15 & 16, Albertans will have the opportunity to meet those responsible for putting food on their table, while exploring Alberta’s agricultural roots and how they inform daily life across the province and the country. 

Visitors can explore everything from produce, meat and dairy production, to the machinery and technology behind planting and harvesting crops, to what goes into their favorite local beers. Open Farm Days gives locals the chance to learn about and experience first-hand the processes that provide them with the products they rely on.  

Every year, thousands of people province-wide venture outside of city limits to take part in Open Farm days. This year, 75 farms from Grand Prairie to Lethbridge will be participating, offering activities, demonstrations, tours and hands-on experiences for all ages. “It’s a great opportunity for people who are not familiar with farming to connect the dots between local agriculture and their products,” says Nicola Doherty, Marketing Coordinator for the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies, “it really fosters an appreciation for all the products grown and produced here in Alberta.” 

Along with promoting agricultural education and awareness, Open Farm Days also increases support for Farm to Table and Support Local initiatives by allowing people the opportunity to experience local products straight from the farm. “People are often shocked by the amount of work that goes into these products,” says Doherty, “for farmers, this is their every day – but for non-farm folk, they are in awe.” 

In order to operate safely within provincial guidelines, Open Farm Days will look a little different this year.  To remain in compliance with COVID-19 regulations and ensure proper social distancing, Alberta Open Farm Days has transitioned to scheduled visit times for this year’s event. Learn how to schedule your visit here.

This weekend, take the opportunity to escape the city and do something different – spend the day on a farm! Visitors are encouraged to bring cash, a cooler and dress for the weather. 

For more information on Alberta Farm Days 2020, visit https://albertafarmdays.ca.

 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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