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Packers paying farmers less: study

According to the findings of a report from the National Farmers Union, independent livestock producers in Canada are earning about half of what their parents and grandparents were paid by packers and cattle feeders, and the declines actually began in 1989, not 2003 or 2007.

November 20, 2008  By Regina Leader-Post

November 20, 2008

An independent livestock producer today is being paid half of what his or her parents and grandparents received from packers and cattle feeders decades ago, bankrupting family farmers across Canada, a new report from the National Farmers Union (NFU) argues.

The NFU said Wednesday, the day it released its report entitled The Farm Crisis and the Cattle Sector, that Canadian producers need to take a serious look at the downturn in the industry that started not in 2007 with dollar fluctuations or in 2003 with the BSE outbreak, but in 1989 when significant structural changes in the beef industry came to Canada.


It was in that year, said NFU research director Darrin Qualman, that Cargill Ltd. opened a beef-packing plant in High River, Alta., marking the beginning of the transfer of control of the industry from a large number of Canadian-based packers to two United States-based companies that subsequently concentrated production into a few huge plants.

"When you adjust for inflation, when you compare what farmers are getting now to what farmers got in a 50-year period between the end of the Depression and 1989, it's half. We've got half-price cattle right now," Qualman said.

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