(Ottawa, Canada) - Fundamental restructuring in the North American beef industry is becoming so pronounced that it may soon become irreversible, according to the American Meat Institute (AMI), the Canadian Meat Council (CMC) and the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA). The three groups spoke publicly together today in a press conference at the Canadian Press Club in Ottawa.
"Two nations that had been strategic
global partners are being driven apart by a
protracted and unscientific cattle embargo,"
said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle. "More
than 7,800 jobs have been lost in the U.S. meat
packing industry and many more are at risk each
day that the cattle and beef embargo remains in
Boyle said that
several U.S. plants have closed, while others
are operating on a reduced schedule. He
pointed out that many plant employees are
struggling as they work dramatically reduced
hours each week. "And this, in turn, has a
ripple effect in local communities."
"What has been a globally competitive,
North American beef industry is now becoming
two competing nations. Two industries that were
allies are becoming competitors. And in the
end, this is to North America's detriment,"
The embargo on
U.S. imports of Canadian cattle and some
Canadian beef products is now in the hands of
the U.S. courts. Yesterday in Seattle, the
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's appeal of a lower
court ruling, which granted a preliminary
injunction in March to prevent the border from
reopening. R-CALF-USA, an isolationist
organization that was founded a decade ago to
oppose free trade, had requested the injunction
in the U.S. District Court for the District of
Canada is fighting back from its initial
economic struggles following the diagnosis of
its first case in May 2003 and is positioning
itself to become a larger and stronger beef
"We are seeing
diametrically opposite outcomes in the U.S. and
Canada," said Jim Laws, executive director of
the Canadian Meat Council. "We are investing
to expand our beef processing industry. The
bricks and mortar investments that we've been
making to process the cattle that we used to
export to the U.S. are quite literally
'concrete.’ They will not be dismantled if
the border opens later this month.
The Canadian beef packing industry has
expanded its employment by an estimated 1,500
jobs. Canadian packing capacity is expected to
expand to 5.15 million head by the end of 2005.
Meanwhile, the U.S. beef industry has its
hands tied by a court ruling,” with U.S.
packing capacity expected to be 31.7 million
head in 2005, down from 35.7 million head in
John Newman, Chairman
of the Beef Information Centre, a division of
the Canadian Cattleman's Association, said that
while CCA's members hope that U.S. courts will
rule against the embargo, the outcome of an
American legal battle over beef and cattle
trade with Canada remains uncertain.
"Before the embargo, we sent, on
average, a million head of cattle a year to be
processed in the U.S.,” says Newman. "Since
May 2003, we've sent none. Cattle aren't like
tires that you can store in a warehouse. We've
done what we had to do to expand slaughter
capacity and process these animals, but we'd
rather continue our strategic relationship with
the U.S. industry so that together, we can be a
stronger North American beef industry, better
able to compete with the cattle and beef
industries of South America and Oceania."
U.S., CANADIAN BEEF INDUSTRIES SAY FUNDAMENTAL RESTRUCTURING IN NORTH AMERICAN BEEF INDUSTRY CONTINUES;Thursday, July 14, 2005
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Sr. Vice President, Public Affairs