Log in Join Grass Roots Action


Monday, July 11, 2005

Washington, D.C. – The American Meat Institute (AMI) today published an issue advertisement called “R-CALF-OPOLY” in Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill, to expose the games that are being played to prevent restoration of full beef and cattle trade with Canada.

“To a group called R-CALF, trade is a game. To Americans, it’s serious business,” the ad reads. The ad, designed to look like a popular board game, details tactics used by isolationistic cattle producers who aim to keep Canadian cattle out of the U.S, which helps maintain artificially high cattle prices and record high beef prices for consumers.

Prior to Canada’s first case of BSE in May 2003, the U.S. imported, on average, a million head of cattle from Canada that went largely to plants built along the U.S.-Canadian border – plants that have been unable for two years to procure enough cattle to run at capacity. Some plants have closed, while others have reduced shifts and laid off workers. Meanwhile, Canada was forced to expand its beef packing complex in order to process the surplus cattle that it previously exported here. They have done so with millions of dollars in aid from the Canadian government.

According to AMI President J. Patrick Boyle, “If there were a food safety issue, the negative economic impact might possibly be justified. But Canadian and U.S. cattle and beef are produced in virtually identical fashion under virtually identical federal rules. Both are equally healthy and safe. There is simply no food safety argument that can be made to justify that economic devastation that is being inflicted upon the U.S. beef industry. We are helping to create our biggest competitor in Canada and that will harm the U.S. beef industry long-term.”

The Roll Call ad, according to Boyle, is an effort to shine light on the games that are being played. He noted that it may be viewed on a special web site called www.OpenBeefBorders.com, or simply click here: http://www.openbeefborders.com.

“We believe it is imperative that lawmakers on Capitol Hill and others within the beltway recognize the efforts that have kept the border closed for what they are: isolationism designed to benefit a limited number of cattle producers,” Boyle said. “Just as these producers enjoy their high profits, 7,800 jobs have been lost in the U.S. meat industry. Hardworking Americans are being forced to try to make ends meet with jobs that have become part-time through no one’s fault but R-CALF.”

Boyle noted that a July 3 Chicago Tribune article provided valuable insight into the issue. The article, by Tribune correspondent Andrew Martin, detailed the economic prosperity that isolationistic cattle producers are enjoying by artificially shorting the U.S. cattle market through efforts to keep the border closed to Canadian cattle.

In the article, Iowa State University Agriculture Professor Neil Harl noted, "People down here are building fences, fixing up ranches, buying new pickups." Chuck Kiker, a rancher and regional director of R-CALF, was quoted saying, "In the last three years I've made more money on cattle than in the previous seven. If that's short-sighted, I'm sorry."

Boyle urged industry members and others concerned about trade isolationism to visit OpenBeefBorders.com and to use AMI’s Grass Roots Center to write to lawmakers about the need to support efforts to restore beef and cattle trade with Canada.


For more information contact:
David Ray
Vice President, Public Affairs
Janet Riley
Sr. Vice President, Public Affairs

 share on facebook  share on twitter