Do we care if it’s Canadian meat?

Do we care if our meat is made in Canada?

It soon won’t matter, says a report by a Guelph-based agricultural think tank, because there may not be any.

A study by the George Morris Centre concludes that the current surge in the renewable fuels industry is driving livestock farmers – meat producers – out of business in Canada. Crops like corn and soybeans, long used to feed cattle, pigs and poultry, are now being used to manufacture biofuels like ethanol and other “green” products like solvents, car parts and inks.

According to Dr. Al Mussell, ethanol production will cost the Ontario economy roughly $150 million per year, based on corn production in the province, and most of the burden will fall on the red meat industries. With the diversion of much of Ontario’s corn crop from livestock feed to renewable fuels, farmers will be forced to import corn from the US – where it is also selling at an increased price due to the growing ethanol industry.

We have long enjoyed some of the cheapest, yet highest quality meat in the world and have built substantial export markets around the globe The low cost of feed and fuel made this sustainable, but as the dollar increased and feed prices shot up, farmers saw their costs skyrocket and Canadian meat lost some of its attractiveness for international buyers.

Although it’s hard to tell where the dollar will eventually stabilize in our current volatile climate and what effect that will have on livestock farmers, it could be a moot point. The current economic situation has become unsustainable and according to the George Morris Centre, could have disastrous consequences for Canadian livestock farmers.

We may no longer even have to ask if it’s Canadian beef as we could no longer have that option.

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