One of Canada’s largest cattle feeder operations will “voluntarily wind down cattle ownership and cattle feeding operations.”
Western Feedlots operates sites near Strathmore, High River and Mossleigh.
In a news release, the company says shareholders made the decision because of “strong headwinds” in the cattle industry, as well as the high-risk/low-return environment, and the “poor political and economic environment in Alberta.”
Agriculture market analyst Kevin Grier tells News Talk 770 this is systematic stress being felt by the entire feedlot industry.
“The sector is going through a period of very dismal returns, so the fact that we’ve lost a feedlot is not surprising given the financial stress the sector is under. We got into a situation a couple of years ago with prices dramatically increasing because of short supply. The industry started to expand at the same time the packing sector lost capacity, so now we have more animals going into a system that has retrenched a bit.”
The company says it will continue to feed and market the existing cattle, then will suspend feedlot operations once all have been marketed.
Farming operations will continue for the “foreseeable future.”
Grier expects the stress on feedlots will continue for some time in Alberta. The one positive here is for the consumer.
“In a period of very high prices we were stepping up to the meat case in a big way and now that prices are starting to decline, Canadians are going to be enjoying the benefits of that in terms of lower prices.”
The Wildrose party says Western Feedlots is just the latest to react to what the Opposition party calls the NDP government’s risky and ideological agenda.
Agriculture minister Oneil Collier says the pending closure and job losses are disappointing. Collier notes the government has provided strong support for the cattle industry as it suffers through lower prices.