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CCA’s position on culling cows

Letter to the Editor
As President of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, I’d like to correct some misinformation that’s been circulating regarding the beef cattle industry’s position on the issue of cull cows.
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, the organization which officially speaks on behalf of Canadian beef cattle producers on national issues, is committed to finding a beneficial use for cull cattle, which will help give value to these animals and encourage any cattle culling to be in response to market conditions. Canadians are proving their confidence by buying Canadian beef in record quantities. This tremendous support would be jeopardized if the cattle industry were to advocate a massive cull of cattle and removal of beef from those animals from the marketplace.
Close to 700,000 older milking and breeding cattle are culled from the national herd each year. This is a normal attrition rate. The real issue is that the value of these cull animals has taken a huge drop (from approx. $800 per head prior to the BSE announcement to an average of $200 per head today, if a market can be found) in part because the U.S. border has only opened to beef from animals under 30 months old.
A working group comprised of representatives of the cattle producer community, packers and governments is determining ways to add value to the cull cattle market. Options being examined include processing for institutional markets or food aid, development of new products through further processing, development of alternative export markets and displacement of off-shore beef imports.
Beef cattle producers are tremendously grateful for the public support they have received and do not want to see that support eroded. We do not support the idea of wasting beef from perfectly healthy animals through an extraordinary cattle cull.
Neil Jahnke
Canadian Cattlemen’s Association