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Beef Production


Something to talk about

Mar 11, 2009 | 16:04 1 Okay so --- everything happens for a reason right. We've been floundering around in this industry for how many years now without any clear direction. Cam Ostercamp, Ben Roberts book on the history of the Beef Cattle Industry and, more recently, the NFU study have all identified the problem so we can't say we don't know what we need to change any more. It's all about top heavy control by the "few".

We could take the approach that we continue to kiss the behind of Uncle Sam and his favourite little cousins, but the flatulence is a little too strong for me down there.

The way out for those of us left is definitely to take control of this industry once and for all.

I know that all of you know what 10 billion dollars looks like. It's a lot of mooola. Even if an out of court settlement was half of that, can you imagine how many plants the size of the Cargill plant at High River that would buy. And all of the infrastructure, management and wholesale and or retail as well.

This class action suit of Mr. Palette's is the key folks. It is the golden goose. It is the "chance" for those of us who have been preparing for. Those of us -- as in any of us who are left standing and hoping and praying for an industry that can not only support our families but put a bit of money in our jeans for those things that everyone likes to have in life.

If you have survived this long --- you don't need the 10 billion any more than I do --- but your industry does.

The plant in PEI does --- the plant in Neudorf Saskatchewan does --- and so does the one in Balzac. On top of that we could either buy Cargill's plant or send the good cousins packing south of the line where they belong. There business model stinks as bad as the flatulence I spoke of earlier. As far as the boys who bought Lakeside ---- gee whiz boys --- might have been bad timing. We won't buy them --- just put them under in a good business sense with our new Canadian Producer Owned Packing Industry Model.

No fear folks --- dare to dream.. Reply With Quote
Mar 11, 2009 | 17:41 2 Hey there rkaiser- I thought someone had or would have shot you by now- LOL...Been so long since I've heard anything about or from you..
Good to see you're still rabble rousing and trying to stir up the troops- I wish you luck - but if history is any indicator of the future with this bunch of ABP/CCA/AMI cult followers you may as well be speaking to the wall...

But I do wish you Canucks would keep that 20-30 Below weather up there- its interfering with my sleeping thru calving.. And means I spend too much time between calf checks on these sites "twittering"....LOL Reply With Quote
Mar 12, 2009 | 13:36 3 Anybody seen any "ABP/CCA/AMI cult followers" around here? If they're here, they are laying low. LOL

Hey Randy, good to see you back!

I'm not sure how we could divert settlement money directly into a plant, but if it went to producers directly, I bet raising funds wouldn't be nearly the chore it has been in the past. Up to now it's been like asking the homeless to cough up the cash and build houses. How were we supposed to finance a plant when we were all busy re-financing our farms?

Ten billion........ mmmmm.... that's a lot of money. Might even pay last year's fuel bill. :-) Reply With Quote
Mar 12, 2009 | 14:11 4 hmmm...10 billion...i dont know if i would be prepared to go up against carghill with only 10 billion in my back pocket...but...it certainly would almost clear my wife's christmas visa bill...sigh...vs Reply With Quote
Mar 12, 2009 | 17:52 5 Okay ---- so we don't use it all on the "plan" lol... Another warlock friend of mine suggested that we use it to buy cars and trucks and that way the feds could save both industries in one fell swoop.

He asked me what a farmer would do if he have a bunch of cashola in his or her pocket? Well I know I do would do every damn thing possible to avoid giving one red cent of it back to the feds in taxes after they gave it to me ---- so I guess I have to say that "I" would spend it. The big boys could get the Canada Gold thing fixed with a plant the size of Ranchers in Calgary. It would sure make our franchise plans for Second to None Meats move faster, and yes Vagabond --- paying for those Christmas presents would be nice and maybe even buying some early ones for next year.

Come on dreamers ---- any more thoughts. All the ABP guys could donate theirs to the office to pay for a bigger boardroom table.....LOL

And even the feds have an out besides the stimulus that it would give the economy.... The Liberals were in power when this whole mess started....LOL

It's the perfect dream come true. Reply With Quote
Mar 12, 2009 | 20:20 6 Dare to dream... hmmmm Maybe we could all get our cows some extra furry coats so we can survive another of these nasty winters. I can go for our own packing house, again. How about a team of lawyers to figure out how to reel in the CFIA and all their roadblocks. Some would go to a few of the forward thinking producer voluntarily funded industry groups. Reply With Quote
Mar 12, 2009 | 21:14 7 Kato {Anybody seen any "ABP/CCA/AMI cult followers" around here? If they're here, they are laying low. LOL }

Kato-- well all I've seen on here and many sites are the Canadian Packer backers- that support the Packers with their control of the captive supply and ownership of the feedlots, monopoly slaughter houses, generic worldwide meat and refusing to want to identify their product while riding on the shirttails of the industry the US producer has built thru the years... Reply With Quote
Mar 12, 2009 | 21:44 8 I get pretty frustrated when I see the struggle that some of these plants have had. Competition has to be a good thing. Cull cows were 10 cents higher in SK when the pressure was put on NVF.
I worry about producer owned packing initiatives from the perspective that we are probably overbuilt and operating at 70% of current capacity. The only way to make producer owned plants work is to have one of the big two pull out. I doubt with their Canadian presence and new debt load that NB is going anywhere, so that leaves Cargill. Is that a possibility? I don't know, or do NB try to scoop that up as well.
Is there a structure we are missing where capacity can be taken over, rather than built? 10B would help with plants that already exist and with marketing and establishing the cattle supply to really make things work, but I am pretty sure we are not on the radar. Reply With Quote
Mar 12, 2009 | 22:37 9 Check this out


Good article. They toss a number of over $100,000 per member of the class. When I looked at that I thought "Wow, that's a lot!", but when I gave it a little more thought, I came to the conclusion that it doesn't even cover what we've lost in the past five years. It is not an exorbitant sum of money. I know for a fact that we've lost more than twenty thousand a year over the past five.

It's not an unreasonable amount. Reply With Quote
Mar 13, 2009 | 00:12 10 Actually Sean, there is. I was waiting to get more details,etc and was trying to find the time to put together a "local initiative", but damn, each day goes by way to quickly.
The Acheson plant, not complete, but probably could be within a year, is most likely now or going to be under AB Infrastructure control shortly for "file storage." (Creditor) Most of the equipment is supposed to be on site in containers and will be most likely sold off soon.
So those with Jack Hayden (Infrastrucure) as their MLA, start rattling. (And others as well.)
This plant is so close....and yet so far away.
To make it work, and not have the big boys push the place out, I was wondering if shares could be sold to the consuming public under the 100 mile diet scenario....(google Community Sustained Agriculture). This would help put pressure on the retailers to carry the 'Local" label and hopefully not have the same result as the Ranchers plant. Possibly later, certain branded beef programs, export programs could "rent" capacity to make thing viable. The timing is right for "local and ethically raised beef". People are getting tired of hearing of contamination throughout north America due to one plant screwing up. Just wait until terrorism finds a way to infiltrate one of these plants that supplies North America......the concentration model will change quickly.
50 mil would definitely buy, finish and operate this plant for awhile.....and perhaps not even that much pending capacity and the cost to buy back from the gov......or if we had a gov that truly was committed, they could lease back for $1/yr until things were running.....probably could start operating with some capacity at apporx. 20 mil. Not a lot when 25mil if being spent on "Alberta Rebranding."
Any ideas.anybody ready to really make a change? Reply With Quote
Mar 13, 2009 | 08:19 11 Mr Palletts quote from the manitoba cooperator link Kato posted.

"Were it not for the BSE border closures, he said, "we would be pricing and selling (Canadian beef) as an elite product (into the U.S.) right now." As it stands, with cattle producers in a financial bind and aging with fewer sons and daughters stepping in to replace them, "this country's going to potentially lose its ability to produce cattle."

I suggest he read the NFU Livestock Crisis document under "false causes"
I think it is pure nonsense to blame all this stuff on the Government - how about looking in the mirror - did every producer in the country take the appropriate measures to prevent BSE happening on their farms?

Put another way if we were to suffer a hoof and mouth outbreak next week would producers be seeking to sue the Government because they failed to prevent it? What are the biosecurity standards like on most producers farms currently? Exactly - yet the Government would be to blame? What about personal responsibility and this desire not to have Government involved in our businesses? It cuts both ways.

It's great fun to speculate where we might spend this windfall sum but in reality if it were to happen I suspect most producers would @#%$ it away on F-150s as the article suggests before they put it down to build producer packing plant infrastructure.

This is not "free" money either - it is taxpayer money. Is it appropriate to spend this much in the depths of a recession and a fiscal deficit? It seems most writers on here have been against the bailouts of the banking and auto sectors - is it OK if it's coming into our pockets though? Reply With Quote
Mar 13, 2009 | 09:27 12 The way I see it, yes the government has blame here. They knew the facts when they first started monitoring the imported cattle way back when. At a minimum those cattle should have been kept from the rendering plants, but they were not. This is negligent. They chose to just sit back and hope nothing would happen when it would have been so much easier to just deal with it at the time.

They knew the facts, and still sat on them rather than implement the total feed ban like we have now. I would think this was due to pressure from certain 'corporate' interests. No one wanted to give up profits back then on the thought that there might be a problem in the future. They'd rather wait until there was a problem, and let us pay the price if need be.

I don't think a farmer who went out and bought milk replacer back then should be expected to know what cattle were involved in the production of the product. I would say it's safe to assume that most people, myself included had no idea that milk replacer ever came close to contacting anything that had come from a rendering plant in the first place.

We were operating on the wrongful assumption that we had a safe supply for our cattle feed. We were mislead.

As for the taxpayer's money, quite frankly I don't feel guilty about cattle producers accessing a bit of it. Our government is bending over backwards right now to find ways to stimulate the economy. History has shown many times over that every time a dollar goes into a farmer's pocket, it turns right around and goes right back into the economy. We are very good at stimulating our economy with our spending, and have always been so.

There are five years now that we can all honestly say we have not been contributing much to the economy. I don't know about everyone else here, but on our place, since BSE, we only buy what we absolutely need, and don't buy anything just because we 'want' it. Bare minimum on everything.

The other thing is that the government is more than happy to shovel money at other sectors of the economy that are suffering due to the economic downturn. In fact they are looking for things to spend stimulus money on.

It seems to be the right thing to support other sectors who are having trouble due to no fault of their own or the government. So why is settling with cattle producers not the right thing to do? We're not in bigger trouble than normal due to any downturn of the economy. We're in bigger trouble due to negligence by our own government.

I totally agree that the other problems mentioned in the NFU report are real and need addressing, but the fact remains that things are much much worse than they would have been for us if this BSE thing hadn't happened. It's just another load we can't afford to bear, and it was preventable. If BSE hadn't strapped us so badly, would the strengthening of the big corporations happened in such an accelerated manner? I doubt it. They cashed in on our troubles and that made them even stronger, quicker.

The BSE debacle put us right in the palm of their hands and set us back light years. And the government was right at their sides, enabling them. Reply With Quote
Mar 13, 2009 | 12:25 13 actually grassfarmer i wonder...i think the problem is that we as polite canadians are FAR to transparent and honest...i KNOW for a fact...that the BSE problem hit the US before it showed up in Canada...there were FAR more cases there and the US government was either complicit in or irgnorant of (yeah right)..allowing the problem to be "literally" burried...we on the other hand bent over backwards to show the world our laundry which shifted the focus FULLY on us...and away from a far greater problem to the South...

not to say we should have covered up as did the US...but...i dont think it is a TOTALLY producer born problem...

rkaiser...how about some new RESISTOLS all round?? vs Reply With Quote
Mar 13, 2009 | 12:26 14 Rkaiser...

Although I am uncomfortable about using the courts to address industry problems (really not the cowboy way) the fact remains that the class action suit opens the door for the federal government to inject a significant amount of much needed cash into the cattle industry without triggering any countervail challenges.

Bottomline, is the present government behind cattle producers or not? If the cattle industry was centered in Ontario and Quebec instead of Alberta and Saskatchewan, Manitoba I think we would be seeing a different response from Government without using the courts.

There was a cost to the cattle industry, that is clear. In hindsignt government clearly was negligent. I am not sure if that is proven in court if it opens the door for further trade challenges from the U.S. and what if any are the trade implications of this class action suit.

Still I wish there was another way to get governemnt to take action...We may rue the day the cattle industry took governemnt to court. Years from now it may come back to bite us in the behinds. Not a great way to solve problems but if the suit is successful the cattle industry will be glad to spend the money. Just wish we did not have to do it. Reply With Quote
Mar 14, 2009 | 13:12 15 "Because of our humanitarian ideals and desire to be helpers in our emerging world, be careful not to fall into old patterns of helping others fulfill their needs rather than taking care of our own."

Time to take care of our own folks. We could be afraid of American trade action even though legal payouts are not countervail-able (if that is a word LOL) or position ourselves with this money to not worry about the Americans. Whether it be the boys who get the big cheques putting the final piece in the Canada Gold puzzle, or Canadian Celtic signing that natural beef patty deal with them there fellows in Dubai, we have the knowledge and capability to use this money wisely as well as buy them new Resitols and "Toyota" (LOL) pickups. Reply With Quote
Mar 14, 2009 | 13:24 16 Very good comment..."I am not sure if that is proven in court if it opens the door for further trade challenges from the U.S. and what if any are the trade implications of this class action suit."

I agree that if this goes to court, the stakes are very high on all sides. What if the government lost? Could other countries or businesses sue for damages caused there? Would there be trade sanctions? I would think anything could happen.

To me, this only makes the case for settling out of court even stronger. In fact, looking at other potential problems arising from a decision in our favour, it would seem that settling out of court is the ONLY sensible action.

The fact that Ottawa fought so hard to stop the case from going forward is probably an indication that they don't feel their side of the case is as strong as ours.

This may be cause for hope. They are going to have to think they have a locked in verdict to risk going ahead with this. We on the other hand, have nothing to lose. The worst that can happen to us has happened so many times in the past five years that we've lost count. Just when we think we've seen it all, it happens again. That's our new normal. So what the heck? Go for it. Reply With Quote
Mar 15, 2009 | 11:39 17 Go for it is right Kato... And why the hell not. My eyes are going to be on the end product from now on. Any distraction concerning the why or how or what we do with it doesn't matter so much as putting a bunch of lost dollars back into the pockets of the wonderful people in our industry. I know that it will allow me to finish my career in the beef cattle industry and that is all that realy matters to me. Reply With Quote
Mar 15, 2009 | 11:58 18 fortunately for the rest of us...there are people like F_S and rkaiser and kato and GF...who have their fingers on the pulse (no pun intended)...while all may not agree on the concept of this discussion...it is becoming VERY evident that there will be NO assistance from Govt...and i dont WANT financial assistance...i have had far too much stupid pride all my life to ever accept handouts...i just want a workable environment where i can translate hard work and perseverance into a comfortable living... for my family...

what i need to know from those of you who are smarter than i am...is what do we need to do to facilitate this??

oh...if i get a new resistol out of the deal that would be a bonus...kato...we could exchange yours for a lovely sunday bonnet if you like...lol...vs Reply With Quote
Mar 15, 2009 | 17:18 19 Don't need a Sunday bonnet. I already have a goofy gardening hat that I'm quite attached to. LOL

What I got from what's in the article, and what's been said, is that cattle producers should be talking to their government representatives and letting them know that we all want an out of court settlement. Apparently this isn't just the federal government, but any kind of government official who could carry the concerns up the ladder.

I know Mr. Palette has read and replied to posts on this site before, so maybe he's reading now? Some insight from him would be nice. Reply With Quote
Mar 15, 2009 | 22:22 20 Each to their own but I think this is just wishful thinking and wrong on so many fronts. Really why are the Canadian government any more responsible than anyone else? can't they just turn around and sue the UK government for their mismanagement of BSE - where does it end?
It also provides a legitamacy to the scientifically accepted causes of BSE which I don't agree with.
As for how producers would spend their money if a big payout results, again I think there is some wishful thinking going on. My prediction would be that we would not see producers unite and pool the money to build producer packing plants rather producers would bid it into land and cattle prices to see if they could get a step ahead of their neighbors in the commodity game. Our plans for producer packing infrastructure didn't really fail through lack of funds - it was lack of producer support if we are honest and that hasn't changed.
And after all this life goes on - with all the same problems as before of corporate concentration etc. I would rather producers lobby their politicians for action on the root causes of our current problems rather than lobby for what would amount to just another short term handout. Reply With Quote
Mar 16, 2009 | 09:30 21 I understand that Keystone in Manitoba is now selling meat and it will be interesting to watch to see if Manitoba producers actually support a local initiative or whether it goes the same route as Sask and AB projects. I wonder how many will pick holes in what is wrong rather than what they can do to make it right. Hopefully it is a blueprint to follow. If we ever do get a chance to invest in local ventures, i want to make certain that the facility is separated from the management so that our investment in the facility is never lost and that the slaughter facility will remain even if there is a change in management of that slaughter facility Reply With Quote
Mar 16, 2009 | 10:57 22 If you have given up on the hoards grassfarmer --- just think of yourself and your family for a bit. How could you solidify your own little group or your own family operation. I honestly feel that those of us who are left all recognise the problem of corporate control and even though some may simply buy new pickups, most will try to figure out other ways. Canadian Legacy Partners, Canada Gold, North West Cattlemans Beef Alliance..--- name others. These are all good cattlemen who simply need that last bit of cashola to make each of their dreams come true. And when they do, the corporate control model will fail. We know how to export beef, we know how to sell beef domestically. We can do this on our own and don't even have to fight them. Just ask Brian or Lee Nielsen.

I don't how else you propose to make your dream come true grassfarmer. If you have a better plan --- let's hear it. Changing people's minds --- changing ABP --- ain't gonna happen. We are all still in this industry BEACAUSE we are individual thinkers who believe in free enterprise and will do whatever it takes to get our industry back there and away from this corporate communist system we are experiencing.

What would you do with 100 K grassfarmer? I think your business would move forward substantially with shot in the arm like that. I know we would have more than our current three stores in Calgary. We will be in Edmonton, Red Deer and on our way to Lotus land before you can herd those cows of your down the lane to their new feed paddock. Reply With Quote
Mar 16, 2009 | 13:37 23 Keystone is processing about 20 or 30 head a day. It's a start, but a small one. Actually it's what they should have done in the first place when they tried to start this a couple of years ago. They have already tried to start big, as Natural Prairie Beef, and it blew up big time. We have neighbours who almost lost it all due to that approach. This is why we're sitting back and waiting this one out. If they are smarter this time, and grow the business with the customer demand, instead of producing product and then going to look for a home for it, maybe it will work this time. The jury is still out though.

Anything that gets going now needs to be started small, grown slowly, and stay under the radar until they are firmly established. It's the only way to make it go.

As for a hundred thousand, we'd put it on debt without even wait for the ink to dry. Debt we did not have five years ago. Debt we'd rather not have to pay off with a pension cheque. ;-) If not for BSE, we'd be all paid up free and clear by now. It was that close. And now it's right back to same old same old.

I think if cattle producers in general got a financial shot in the arm right now, you'd see the mood of optimism return, and that's the major ingredient we need to get some new initiatives going. There's not a lot of us left who can afford to invest in something that doesn't have at least a reasonable amount of security attached to it. Losing money at this stage is not an option for most of us. There's no extra cash to play with any more. Reply With Quote
Mar 16, 2009 | 21:39 24 Randy, I'm not arguing with the need for producers to invest in plants I just don't believe they will. I don't believe "everyone" left in the industry recognizes the need to do things differently - I think it is still a very, very small minority that want to get involved in producer owned plants or retailing. A whole whack of producers (even the keen ones that attended all the packing plant proposal meetings) would invest IF they are able to dump their cattle off at the plant much like they do with their weaned calves at auction just now, IF there was no financial risk to themselves and IF there was a guaranteed premium up front.
Not knocking the guys who are gung ho but I think they are a lot fewer and further apart than you claim. Even if these new plants get established they would be at the mercy of the big 2 - just like Ranchers was, liable to be shut down inside a year any time the big 2 decide.

I could sure use $100k, who couldn't?, but I certainly don't need it to expand my retail business. I've developed a product and am marketing it successfully by building a relationship with my customers one at a time. Throwing money at it wouldn't make a great difference, nor should it as I don't want to build my future on the basis of getting a free handout every so often. Reply With Quote
Mar 16, 2009 | 21:59 25 Dreaming is good Randy, and good thoughts will come out of them. We were already handed out enough to buy the Lakeside plant but that idea flew about as far as tossing a boulder. Many for sure would take the money and invest it outside the industry to prepare for retirement. Some would pay off debt. Others would covet some more iron. I like the dream and would be in on one more attempt. Just as a side note, I hauled some seed to get cleaned at the seed plant today and noticed an amazing lack of cows on the way. There have been two dispersal's and one reduction in the eight mile stretch. About 350-400 head in all. Reply With Quote
Mar 17, 2009 | 11:23 26 Forgive me for not having time to read all the above posts, but I want to know how you understand this possible payout....

As I have read on the class action documents, any payout in a settlement of any kind, would see the amount already paid out to each producer deducted from the new settlement. If this is correct, then many people would get nothing.

It does not matter to us financially, as we opted out a while back.

I will probably be faced with getting my payout, when the government uses the Animal Health Act to shut us down, or when they use Bill 19 the Land Assembly Project Act to kick us off the land.

If you take a settlement with the Feds on the BSE class Action, you will no doubt sign a release of claims waiver, that forever removes the Fed. Gov. from paying out cash for future BSE related damages (associated with their ineptitude).... Since it is becoming quite obvious that the BSE crisis is going to get hot again.... you are deciding whether you want to maybe get a payout now, or maybe get a payout later....

When Western Canada is "zoned" differently from Eastern Canada... and our animals and meat products are raised under different, more restrictive measures than theirs... the costs of doing business in Western Canada will be a huge burden...

I wish I could dream ... but when I see the measures being taken by our governments to restrict and limit our liberties and personal securities.... I have no faith in them.... I DO have faith in all of you though. Reply With Quote
Mar 17, 2009 | 14:04 27 Conservation easements are a tool that might or might not help. The rights of the mineral holders and the people trump the rights of the surface owner. A CE can help by adding another layer or advocate for the land. The value of a conservation easement is independently assessed and approved by Canada Revenue Agency in order to take advantage of the tax implications and their Ecological Gifts program. It can only be overturned by order of the Minister and that has not happened in Canada. (to the best of my knowledge) There are some very conscientious Land Trusts in Alberta and as a tool to preserve the integrity of the environment they should not be discounted because of the Military case in Colorado. Reply With Quote
Mar 17, 2009 | 14:06 28 It appears I posted the above post in the wrong thread. Sorry Reply With Quote
Mar 18, 2009 | 11:08 29 Exactly what has been paid out to producer's already? If you mean CAIS, that's an argument that should not hold water. These are two different things, and if the lawyers in this case are willing to accept that they are one and the same, then they need to be replaced.

CAIS was not started with the intention of covering negligence by the government. It's a totally separate risk management tool that was intended to cover financial difficulties brought about by market drops and natural disasters as such. CAIS was not intended as a plan to cover government neglect regarding animal health issues.

Apples and oranges, in my view. If someone stole my car, would the insurance company refuse to pay for it because they paid for body work for an accident last week? Could they say, "Sorry, we've already paid you once on this car, so that means we're off the hook for further damage." No they could not. These are two different issues, and saying we've received money in the past means we don't deserve compensation just doesn't cut it. Not everyone has gotten any money from CAIS, and not everyone is in the program either. Even those in the program can probably all agree that it has not come within a million miles of covering the damages done.

I realize that to accept this deal would seem an acknowledgement that BSE has no other causes than feed transmission. The fact that it acknowledges feed transmission does not necessarily say there is no other means of acquiring this disease. After all, it started somewhere. This is just recognizing that feed is one way to spread it, not that it's the only way it can be acquired. Reply With Quote
Mar 19, 2009 | 22:55 30 Not sure how you figure that some people would get nothing Kathy. Your points about future claims make sense and each of us needs to remember this when we do receive our cheques and make the decision that will affect the rest of our careers. I appreciate you standing up for your beliefs and it is much better than bad mouthing the class action and still dragging along when the choice was there to opt out.

There will be a pay out. Our choice is to make enough noise now and settle out of court or keep watching our cow herd dwindle until Mr. P and the gang hand out cheques to a bunch of X ranchers who are raising grasshoppers and gophers where there cows used to be and working in Fort McMurray making payments on their homes. Reply With Quote