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Sales Cancelled

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Well-known member
Feb 10, 2005
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Auctions cancel sales as cattle ban remains
this document web posted: Wednesday March 9, 2005 20050310p13

By Ian Bell
Brandon bureau

Cattle prices fell and producers opted to hold livestock back from auctions late last week on the news that exports of Canadian cattle to the United States would not resume March 7 as scheduled.

Auctions were expecting volumes of market animals to remain off the pace this week while cattle producers and feedlot operators digest the latest events.

"It's certainly uncertain," said Don Danard, president of the Calgary Stockyards, in a March 7 interview.

"Nobody knows how long this thing's going to go."

Last week, a district court judge in Montana granted a preliminary injunction delaying the reopening of the border to imports of Canadian cattle younger than 30 months.

That blow was combined with a resolution by the U.S. Senate to overturn the U.S. Department of Agriculture's rule that established conditions for those imports to resume.

Danard saw prices for feeder cattle dip about $5 a hundredweight in the wake of the news. Prices for fats were off $8-$10 a cwt., he said.

In recent weeks Canadian fed prices had been climbing in anticipation of the border re-opening, narrowing the basis between the U.S. cash market and Canadian market to about -$17 per cwt. Last week, Canadian and American prices moved in opposite directions and the weekly average basis widened to -$30.41, said Canfax.

At the Heartland Livestock Services auction at Moose Jaw, Sask., cattle prices were strong March 1, a sign of optimism that the border would reopen. But Grant Barnett of Heartland was expecting a slump in volumn there March 8. The auction holds its main cattle sale weekly on Tuesdays.

"I think it's going to be real small," Barnett said March 7, in anticipation of what would happen at the following day's sale.

"Nobody knows what to think about the latest turn of events and how long the border reopening might be postponed. It's kind of a wait and see."

At Pipestone, Man., Gene Parks cancelled the cattle sale scheduled for March 7 at Pipestone Livestock Sales Ltd. There were not enough cattle consigned.

Parks said news that the border would not open that day had a bearing on the cancellation. However, a snowstorm swept through the area a day before, creating dangerous driving conditions and highway closures.

Parks said the Pipestone market had been moving a "tremendous number of cattle" before news of the injunction. It is a guessing game as to what will happen next, he said March 7.

"We'll have to see how things play out, regroup and go from there. That's been the story of our lives for the past two years."

This is the time of year when a lot of producers market short keeps and grass cattle, said Danard of Calgary Stockyards. With a new calf crop arriving, producers traditionally want to clear their pens of calves remaining from the previous year.

The events of last week hit producers at the Ste. Rose, Man., auction market like a punch in the stomach, said Clint Robertson, who works at the auction and also raises commercial cattle and purebred Charolais with his family near Amaranth, Man.

However, producers soon recognized that the injunction and the Senate vote were not the end of the world, Robertson said. He added that it reinforces the view that Canada's cattle industry must ease its reliance on the U.S. market.

"This just confirms that we have to do this on our own and we have to take control of our own destiny."

More packing capacity in Canada and increased BSE testing are cited by Robertson as ways to build markets for Canadian beef elsewhere in the world, particularly in Asia.

"I think we're on the right track but it's just not happening quickly enough."

The Ste. Rose auction mart holds its sale every Thursday. At the sale March 3, there was a general price decline of about 10 cents a pound on feeders, Robertson said. However, for the higher quality feeders, the price decline was only two to five cents a lb. "and cows and bulls were actually up from the week before. Good quality cattle held their value remarkably well."

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