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Cattle Producers "Toughing Things Out"

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CattleAnnie

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News Article
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Ranchers digging in
Cattle producers determined to ‘tough things out’

BY JEFF KORENKO
Peace Country SUN WRITER
Wednesday March 23, 2005


The latest delay in getting the U.S. border reopened to Canadian cattle hasn’t changed the resolve of area producers.

Most ranchers at the recent 20th Peace Country Classic Agri-Show in Grande Prairie said they weren’t surprised with the developments and maintained they must continue with a business-as-usual attitude.
While the U.S. Department of Agriculture had planned to reopen the border March 7, U.S. ranchers’ group R-CALF managed to obtain a preliminary injunction from a judge in Montana blocking young cattle from crossing the border merely five days prior to the scheduled reopening.
As frustrating as another setback may be, it won’t alter the mindset of producers who believe the U.S. market is not integral to survival, said Jason McQuaig, who owns Jay Dawn Farms – a 90 cow-calf pair operation in Sexsmith – with wife Nicole and parents Don and Pat.

“It was a little bit of a letdown, but we’ve seen the U.S. would go ahead and (keep the border closed). As Canadians we need to move forward and continue to work on our own export markets,” said McQuaig.
“It’s just going to take more time. Hopefully the Canadian government will work toward getting it open, but we won’t be holding our breath on that.”
The family continues to run the program it put in place since the onset of the mad cow crisis some 22 months ago, but its cattle operation has only managed to stay viable through supplementing income from the family farm, McQuaig conceded.

“It has impacted our bottom line obviously. I work full-time off the farm and if I didn’t, we probably wouldn’t be able to keep things going,” he said. “Everyone runs their own program and we know a lot of guys are getting out of it. The guys that stay with it should do (well) in the long run. It’s just being able to stay with it and tough things out until things turn around.”

McQuaig is adamant that Canadian producers must forego the American market and look for other export avenues.
“We need to quit relying on the States and that goes for all facets, you know, whether it’s grain, softwood lumber or the cattle.”
It has now been nearly 22 months since the first case of mad cow disease was discovered at a Wanham-area farm in May 2003. Losses to the Canadian industry have reached about $7 billion.

Dennis Cloutier, owner of Kimlake Farms, a purebred operation in McLennan, also said he wasn’t surprised by the court injunction.
“I kind of expected it. I knew it was going to go to court. It’s a long process and I think we are working through it. There is still a lot of optimism in the industry and it’ll take a while. But it’ll get there,” said Cloutier, who runs about 175 cows in January and 75 more in May/June and farms about 4,600 acres of grainland and 1,500 acres of pasture.
“I’m one of those that believes when things are tough and the margins are narrow, you don’t stockpile cattle. Anything that’s inefficient you gotta get rid of.

“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. You run your business in the conditions you (are faced with). I am frustrated to a certain point, but it’s counterproductive (to) spend your time being negative about you business.”

The optimism Cloutier spoke of comes from the fact the price of beef has been reasonable lately, he figured. While last year was a struggle, 2005 has been better, he said.

“For breeders like us it has been very difficult, because the commercial guy doesn’t have the funds ... to buy breeding stock. Last year was a really hard year (but) this year up to know the sales have been great “So, we’re kind of hoping tomorrow will be more of the same.
“I have more faith in the system that things are going to work out, than maybe some of the doom and gloom that some people have,” said Cloutier.

Nonetheless, the lifelong rancher and farmer feels the federal government hasn’t done the beleaguered industry any favours of late, commenting that Prime Minister Paul Martin picked a rather inopportune time to clarify that Canada would not be partnering with the U.S. in its missile defence plans.

“Why would you ever announce ... (the stance) on the missile defence system two, three days before? Where’s the brains? It kind of tells you the importance he puts (on) agriculture,” said Cloutier.

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Murgen

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“It has impacted our bottom line obviously. I work full-time off the farm and if I didn’t, we probably wouldn’t be able to keep things going,”
Two jobs, and low pay at both, Sandhusker, shouldn't Walmart pay for this guys benefits?

“We need to quit relying on the States and that goes for all facets, you know, whether it’s grain, softwood lumber or the cattle.”
Kind of reminds me of a George Daniels song "the Devil went down to Georgia"

“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. You run your business in the conditions you (are faced with). I am frustrated to a certain point, but it’s counterproductive (to) spend your time being negative about you business.”

Negative about your business atmosphere, R-calf could take a lesson from you buddy! Never put down the competition, you might be working for them someday! Only the optimistic make it in business. Blaming competition never works. Competition only makes you stronger. Hat, you'll learn this your second year of farming!

This kind of sums up the Canadian ranchers/farmers resolve. We'll get er done. If the US doesn't want our raw resources, that they have been so good at adding value to in the past, we'll sell them to another market who are willing to do the same. And we'll add value right here in Canada, and we'll be proud to market it with a big "Made in Canada" label, thanks OT for the idea. We'll give you credit for coming up with this first.
 
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