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But at least it is Green

The Canadian Cattleman’s Association has just released a study conducted by the Ontario-based George Morris Centre that says efforts by the federal government to promote a biofuel industry in Canada takes a $130 million annual toll on the Canadian livestock industry.

The biggest impact: it appears that promoting the use of feedgrains to produce ethanol has driven up the price of feed grains. Tied into that of course in this North American market is the heavily subsidized, U.S. biofuel program, which has a huge appetite for corn for ethanol. And as the price of corn goes up, so does the price of feed grains.

The study, “Impact of Canadian Ethanol Policy on Canada’s Livestock and Meat Industry 2012,” shows that Canadian ethanol policies have a “direct and important negative influence on the Canadian livestock industry.”

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) has long advocated for a market-based biofuels industry. “Government policy that favours biofuels production as a purchaser of feed grain favours that industry at the expense of the livestock and meat sector,” says CCA President Travis Toews. “We aren’t against high grain prices, but we want to compete on a level playing field. The cattle industry fully appreciates how important a vibrant Canadian grain industry is to our sustainability.”

“This research shows the negative effects that government imposed ethanol production mandates have had on the profitability and production of Canada’s livestock and meat industries. Governments need to be aware of these effects,” Toews says. “CCA policy supports the removal of subsidies, tariffs and the mandate. This would let the market decide the best usage of feed grain in Canada.”

The full report can be found on the George Morris Centre website at www.georgemorris.org. The research was funded by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council and Canadian Meat Council.

When I read the release I couldn’t help but think two things: there are no free lunches, and all this “green” stuff is good in many respects, but ultimately someone has to pay for it.

Lee Hart

South Korean Beef

I wrote a column/blog a while ago where I made the comment it was nice that the South Koreans had finally agreed to a food safety protocol that would allow Canadian beef imports into the country, but I also wondered why it took nine years of negotiations to convince them Canadian beef was safe.

I received a few comments, including one from a fellow in Texas who suggested there was a great coverup to the fact that North American beef is causing the human form of mad cow disease in people.

And then I also I had note from a Canadian reader known only as “The Old Farmer,” who wrote: “The BSE crisis was never about food safety, it was all about politics. Ten years of giving away your product at a 50 per cent discount is great for the consumer but has been a massive setback to the Canadian beef industry. One that it may not easily recover from.”

New forage cereals

Saskatchewan’s Crop Develop-ment Centre has registered and released, respectively, a new two-row forage barley and a new forage oat variety although it will be a couple years before commercial seed of either is available.

The plant breeding team headed by Brian Rossnagel along with Aaron Beattie and Bruce Coulman, have just registered CDC Maverick, the two-row barley, and they have just released CDC Haymaker, a forage oat. (Forage oats don’t have to be registered, just released.)

CDC Maverick is essentially a smooth awned version of CDC Cowboy. Like CDC Cowboy it demonstrates high biomass yield and in co-op testing out-yielded all checks and other entries by more than 10 per cent in terms of forage dry matter. Forage quality is similar to CDC Cowboy with the exception of course that CDC Maverick has smooth awns while CDC Cowboy has rough awns. Pedigreed seed increase and marketing will be handled by SeCan.

CDC Haymaker is designed as replacement for CDC Baler and shows some seven per cent higher forage dry matter yield than CDC Baler with similar forage quality. As a forage oat CDC Haymaker is not designed for the milling industry.

The CDC will soon be seeking a seed agency for pedigreed seed increase and marketing of the new oat variety.

Coming Events

Feb. 15 to 17 — The Alberta Beef Industry Conference will be held at the Capri Centre in Red Deer, Alta. The annual conference features a trade show on beef industry products and services as well as several speakers on a wide range of production and marketing issues. For more information visit the conference website at www.abiconference.ca.

March 21 to 22 — The Alberta Farm Animal Care conference will be held at the Holiday Inn — 67th Street, in Red Deer, Alta. The AFAC annual meeting and reception is held the first night starting at 7 p.m., followed March 22 by a number of speakers on animal care and consumer trends. For more information visit the conference website at www.afac.ab.ca/lcc.

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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