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Where’s The Beef (Profits)?

Alberta rancher Iain Aitken recently had a cull cow custom processed to highlight the inequity of profit distribution in the beef production chain. The cow that would only have brought $340 at auction yielded $1,233 of hamburger and stew meat when valued at local store prices. Although cull cows are older animals being removed from the breeding herd, they provide a crucial source of income for producers, and at one time regularly brought $700 or more at auction.

“Producers are selling cull cows at record-low prices yet retail stores claim they use the beef as a loss leader and the beef packers claim they lose money processing cows – we need an inquiry to discover the truth,” stated Aitken in a National Farmers Union release. “The Canadian retail price of hamburger today is around $2.75 per pound up from the $1.75 per pound it was 10 years ago. In that 10 years, however, the price of cull cows at auction has halved. Clearly something is wrong,” he said.

Many producers believe the problem is corporate concentration and lack of competition. The situation in Alberta got worse this summer when Nilsson Brothers Inc. bought the Tyson Foods Lakeside plant at Brooks, thereby reducing the two main buyers of cull cows to one.

Russia Widens Pork Ban

Russia’s concern about the use of veterinary drugs in the United States is not based on international standards and does not have a scientific justification, a spokeswoman with the Office of the United States Trade Representative said Dec. 10.

Russia has widened its ban on U. S. pork imports, citing the presence of an antibiotic. Russia, the fifth-largest export market for U. S. pork, also threatened to completely seal its borders to pork from the United States.

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