BSE Huge Blow to Ontario Beef Industry
May 21, 2003 (Guelph) – Ian McKillop,
a beef farmer from Dutton, Ontario and vice president of the Ontario
Cattlemen’s Association, said that he continues to be shocked by the
fact that BSE has been discovered in one animal in the Canadian beef herd.
"We learned from the experiences of the United Kingdom a decade ago.
That’s why we have so many safe guards in place," said McKillop.
These safe guards include a rigorous
random testing and surveillance program at processing plants across the
county; an import ban on cattle and beef products originating from
countries with BSE, a ruminant to ruminant feeding ban that has been in
place since 1997 and, more recently, the Canadian Cattle Identification
Program. This program requires all cattle in Canada to wear unique,
bar-coded ear tags that allow them to be traced back to their herd of
origin in the event of a food safety concern or foreign animal disease.
McKillop added that he has every
confidence in Canada’s food safety system and said that the fact that
inspectors prevented the affected beef from entering the food chain shows
that the surveillance system is working.
The discovery of BSE in a beef animal in
Alberta is the third hit experienced by Ontario beef producers in recent
months. Over the last two years, beef farmers in Ontario have been dealing
with low prices for their finished animals. Losses of $53 million in the
feedlot sector alone, were documented in the 2001-2002 calendar years. The
recent rise in the Canadian dollar of more than seven cents over the last
few months has also resulted in additional losses of about $150 per animal
(or about 10 per cent of the value of a finished cattle beast.)
In Ontario, there are approximately
21,000 farmers that make a living from producing beef. Beef exports from
Ontario to the U.S.A., in 2002, were valued at $354 million in live cattle
and an additional $292 million in beef product.