One wonders what the federal government of Canada is waiting for. American and Japanese beef markets have closed their doors. Spring calving means that there will be even more pressure on Canadian beef farmers to feed stock they cannot sell, or have to sell at huge losses. Yet if we tested every cow many of the problems that are now in place would be resolved. So why don?t we simply test every cow?
The stated excuse is that it will cost too much. But it is hard to imagine that the Department of Agriculture would have to spend any more to implement a cost effective testing procedure than it is going to have to spend to help cover current losses. As for the cost of the test itself, many experts feel that the $700/cow price tag that has been suggested is far too high. In any event, they argue, why don?t we put our excellent scientists to work and develop a test that is less costly? Then Canada can sell the testing procedure to other cattle producing countries and recover some of its development costs.
There is no question that this is a critical time for the Canadian beef industry. The government of Canada needs to take the initiative and develop a testing process that cattle producers can afford, and which re-open vital markets. In the meantime, perhaps money that had been tagged for western economic diversification can be used for loan guarantees. Stating that the health of Canada?s beef industry is directly tied to our ability to diversify is a pretty easy argument to make.
These are the kind of ideas that need to be pursued in Ottawa. Too bad our official opposition is more interested in their own leadership race than they are in the concerns of Canadian ranchers and farmers.