The livestock insurance industry in Western Canada is set to take a huge hit as ranchers in the area continue to lose money keeping their cattle under quarantine.
Ranchers from the Western provinces approached federal legislators yesterday saying that they either need to sell their cattle or collect compensation, as they are losing more money feeding their calves.
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The federal government had imposed quarantines on 34 farms in southeast Alberta and two farms in southwest Saskatchewan, after confirmation from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) that six cases of Alberta cattle with bovine TB had been detected. Approximately 18,000 head of cattle are held in quarantine for testing, Alberta Beef Producers executive director Rich Smith told Reuters
. The CFIA also said that testing the cattle for tuberculosis could take months.
Typically, calves are sold in autumn to feedlots, but the quarantines have prevented a number of ranchers from selling their cattle, forcing them to absorb the costs of feeding the calves for longer than expected.
“The feed costs are going to destroy us,” said rancher Ross White in a video addressed to the federal agriculture committee meeting in Ottawa. “I’ll be broke by spring.”
Another rancher, Brad Osadczuk, told legislators that the quarantine is costing him $92,000 monthly, simply to keep his 400 head of cattle (a third of his herd) fed.
Canadian Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay commented that while the government hands payouts for animals that are destroyed, there is currently no program to help ranchers whose herds are quarantined.
“I’ve asked my department to look into that and try to rectify the situation,” MacAulay told Reuters
. “Having been a farmer, I fully understand the cost that’s involved.”
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