Que. cattle producers urge Colbex review

A new group of Quebec cattle producers is urging the province to investigate the finances of the producer-owned Levinoff-Colbex beef packing plant, Quebec media report.

Colbex, the largest cull-cattle slaughter plant in Canada’s East, changed hands in 2006 when Quebec’s cattle producers put up $50 million to buy an 80 per cent stake, which they later increased to full ownership. The 80 per cent stake was funded by a $20-per-head checkoff on cull animals.

The new group, calling itself the Association de defense des producteurs de bovins du Quebec, is questioning the $50 million price tag, which it judges to be too high, according to Quebec farm newspaper La Terre de Chez Nous on Friday.

Quebec’s cattle producers’ federation in April 2008 voted to put up another $30 million to help cover the Colbex plant’s debts, through a checkoff of $53.86 per marketed animal.

The new group said the plant has been running into the red for the past three years, and in that time has not operated at more than 60 per cent of its capacity.

“If I ran my farm like that, I’d already be bankrupt,” Bois-Francs dairy farmer Jean-Albert Fleury said in a separate article on the matter Friday in Quebec City newspaper Le Soleil.

Annie Morin of Le Soleil quoted the new group as saying it wants to see Colbex’s books independently audited.

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