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Commentary: Cattle industry health remains vital

It is important that the sustainability and competitiveness of the industry be strongly promoted and supported

The cattle industry remains key to Alberta’s overall success, both in terms of supplying food for residents here, across Canada and around the world, as well as being a vital driver of the province’s overall economy.

As such it is important that the sustainability and competitiveness of the industry be strongly promoted and supported, particularly as the province strives to recover from the vast financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recently announced multi-stakeholder study will hopefully go a long way in ensuring that the information needed to grow the industry in 2021 and beyond will be available to producers, industry associations and government. 

The Alberta government is partnering with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Alberta Beef Producers, and Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association to undertake the study.

The initiative aims to help the beef industry identify challenges and opportunities in its supply chain, including supporting processor resiliency and plant reinvestment strategies, and planning for surge capacity when events like the COVID-19 pandemic put stress on the food chain.

The study will also “help determine where additional investments could be made to find efficiencies and achieve an optimal processing level” going forward.

“Collaborating with industry is vital to growing and advancing our agriculture sector in Alberta,” says Devin Dreeshen, minister of Agriculture and Forestry and area MLA.

Melanie Wowk, chair of Alberta Beef Producers, says the study “supports our strategy to enhance the competitiveness of Alberta’s beef industry through research and innovation, strengthening the sustainability and competitiveness of the industry. ABP is dedicate to maintaining a truly sustainable, competitive beef industry.”

Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association officials also say they hope the new study will help move the cattle industry forward.

With Alberta’s oil and gas industry under increasing pressure on several fronts, including the growing trend toward alternative energy sources, it is vitally important that the $18 billion Alberta beef industry remains competitive and sustainable. 

Hopefully this major new study can play a role in making that possible.

Dan Singleton is an editor with The Albertan.

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