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Yet Another U.S. Packing Plant Goes Dark in Wake of Protracted Canadian Cattle Embargo

Friday, June 10, 2005

The two year ban on Canadian cattle and some Canadian beef imports has claimed yet another American victim, with Packerland Packing in Gering, Nebraska announcing that it will be laying off its entire workforce and closing its doors permanently. The plant joins the growing list of U.S. meatpacking plants who have short shifted or shut down completely, landing more than 6,300 hardworking Americans in the unemployment line. For a summary of the lost employment and negative economic impact of the ban, click here: http://www.openbeefborders.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/8297

\x{201C}The massive hemorrhage of jobs and economic growth caused by this unnecessary and damaging prohibition against Canadian cattle is permanently scarring hardworking Americans and causing massive displacement in rural communities across the country,\x{201D} said Mark Dopp, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel of the American Meat Institute (AMI).

A spokesman for the plant told the Associated Press that the company couldn\x{2019}t procure enough cattle to maintain production levels at the plant, a situation he said was \x{201C}largely due to the ban on importing cattle from Canada into the United States.\x{201D} 205 workers will be laid off when the plant closes.

Canada has responded to the border closure by dramatically increasing its meatpacking capacity with plans for further expansion next year. \x{201C}As jobs continue to flow to Canada and beef prices continue to climb in the U.S. due to tight supplies, taxpayers and consumer are going to wonder why Congress didn\x{2019}t take proactive steps to prevent this economic chaos from happening,\x{201D} he added.

As the U.S. meatpacking industry shrinks due largely to the closed border, Canada is rapidly expanding its meatpacking capacity. Canadian slaughter increased 27% in 2004 and, according to the Canadian Cattle Association, is expected to increase by an additional 19% by the end of 2007. \x{201C}The border closure is really death by a thousand cuts for U.S. meatpackers,\x{201D} said Dopp. \x{201C}The industry is not only losing jobs because of the border closure, but we\x{2019}re also losing consumers, who are driven to purchase other proteins because beef prices remain at record highs,\x{201D} he added.

The issue of restoring trade is tied up in litigation, with a preliminary injunction granted by a U.S. District Court in Montana on appeal in the 9th Circuit. An isolationistic group called R-CALF sought and obtained the injunction to keep the border closed and maintain record high cattle prices. \x{201C}As a handful of isolationists continue to block the restoration of cattle trade with our closest ally and neighbor, the entire American meatpacking sector and cattle industry is facing monumental structural changes, which will render us less competitive, less vibrant, and less capable of winning back our lost foreign markets,\x{201D} said Dopp.

For more information, visit http://www.openbeefborders.com

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

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