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Canadian beef exports ‘impressive’

CALGARY, Alta. -- The latest numbers released by Canfax, a beef market analysis firm, indicate Canadian beef export...

CALGARY, Alta. — The latest numbers released by Canfax, a beef market analysis firm, indicate Canadian beef exports have been extremely impressive over the last 10 years.

Canada has become the third largest beef exporter in the world, quite an accomplishment for a country that is home to only one per cent of the world’s cows. With annual consumption in Canada remaining stagnant, more and more beef has been trucked south of the border to the U.S. and Mexico.

Trade liberalization is cited as one of the main reasons for the growth.

“NAFTA opened up the door for tremendous free trade access to Mexico,” Dennis Laycraft, executive vice-president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, tells local media.

While Canada is preparing for the fallout from the country-of-origin labeling stipulations in the U.S. Farm Bill, other international markets are being sought out. Canadian consumption is not expected to increase, but by 2012, Laycraft estimates 18 per cent more beef production will be needed to meet demands.

The decline of exports to the U.S. will mean more beef will be directed to Mexico and Asia, a shift that is bound to impact livestock haulers. The real hot market seems to be South Korea, where exports are expected to reach 18,000 tonnes this year, nearly double the exports of last year. Meanwhile, Canada has established strong beef trading ties with Mexico after a beef trade war threatened to flare up between the U.S. and its southern neighbors. Canada is expecting to ship more than 70,000 tonnes of beef to Mexico this year alone.

Besides trade barriers such as the U.S. Farm Bill, the biggest threat facing beef exporters is animal disease. Canada has been fortunate to avoid foot-and-mouth disease during the last go-round in Europe, but it is always on the back of the minds of many farmers.

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