NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — A load of 35 cattle from Ontario successfully crossed the border into the U.S. near here yesterday, officially marking the end of a 26 month old ban on Canadian cattle.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed the first load crossed without incident and officials said loads from Western Canada were also being prepared for shipment to the U.S.
“This was the inaugural load to get across the line to say the border is open so business can resume,” producer Wally Schaus of Schaus Land and Cattle Company told the Canadian Press. “I think (it’s a point of) pride for the whole industry. We can get back to normal business.”
Now, the cattle hauling industry is dusting off cattleliners which have remained parked for two-plus years and trying to find power units to haul the trailers south. It won’t be easy, cattle carriers admit.
“We don’t have the power units to pull these trailers that are sitting around the country,” said Keith Horsburgh, owner of Grace Cattle Carriers. “Probably about 40 per cent of the equipment, as far as trailers go, are sitting there with no power units to pull them and no manpower to drive those power units."
Many cattle haulers have moved onto other trucking jobs some of them working in the oilpatch which is much more lucrative. Luring those drivers back will be no easy chore, Horsburgh says. Especially when the Canadian cattle industry isn’t fully out of the woods yet. A Montana judge will hear an application for a permanent ban on Canadian cattle on July 27 from U.S. protectionist group R-CALF.
It’s the same judge that earlier granted a temporary injunction against Canadian cattle shipments and the same judge that advised R-CALF to seek a permanent injunction.
Even if the U.S. doesn’t impose a permanent injunction against Canadian cattle, it’s unlikely volumes will ever meet pre-BSE levels, the industry says. Canada has been ramping up production capacity here at home, reducing its reliance on U.S. packing plants. And with loads of cattle facing increased security and scrutiny, it’s expected to cost shippers more to ship cattle south of the border.
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