How do you expect Canada's mad cow scare to affect you?

District Voices

Published July 1, 2003  | July 2003 issue

District voices logo

Editor's note: Interviews were conducted in early June.

At this point we haven't seen direct impacts. Futures are down slightly, but that can't exactly be attributed to the outbreak in Canada, since the stock market as a whole is down. Ranchers are guardedly optimistic. For the short term, prices are strong. The big question is what will happen when he borders are reopened. We know that Canada has a lot of cattle they've been stockpiling. The impact that will have is anybody's guess.
Beth Emter, Communications Coordinator
Montana Stockgrowers Association—Helena, Mont.

It's increased our prices that we've had to pass on to our customers, and they're not too happy about it. But they're still buying. We've maintained our steady pace of business, going at 110 percent all the time. We haven't seen a dip in sales. This time of year is our usual increase in middle meats, such as rib eyes, New York strips, tenderloins or T-bones. They normally increase about 50 to 75 cents per pound due to summer salesnot to the extent of $1 per pound as it is now. But that's what happens when you take 5 percent of the beef supply out of the market.
Doug Smith, Owner
Geneva Meats and Processing—Geneva, Minn.
30 Employees

Initially I was nervous. At this point, I don't see that it's affected me at all. If there was a positive effect, it was very short term and it's over already. Any effect that it did have was because of the press. I'm not a believer in closing the borders. I don't believe that Canadian cattle have a big impact on our market. We ship more beef cattle to Canada than they ship to us.
Brad Bonhorst, Farmer
Beef Cow and Cow-Calf Operations/Corn Grower—Pierre, S.D.
Board Member of South Dakota Corn Utilization Council
300 head of cattle

It has had both a positive and negative impact. Trade has picked up as far as cows, bulls and fat cattlesteer and heifer. When they do open the border back up, there's going to be a rush on cattle to market. That'll impact prices. It'll be a two-way street. Short term it's nice. Long term it's negative. Right now, with the market as such, we're going to capitalize on the situation. We're at the lowest levels of beef cattle numbers for quite some time, due to drought. I feel for the farmers up there. I have no beef with [Canadian farmers]. The border doesn't separate us from being fellow farmers and ranchers.
Kory Sorby, Manager
Central Livestock—West Fargo, N.D.
Auction Hous

It hasn't had too much of an impact because we're a cow-calf and yearling operation, and we send cattle to market in the fall. Our primary problem is bovine tuberculosis, which has infected four deer herds in the Lower Peninsula so far this year. It has not been found in the Upper Peninsula, but as a result, we haven't been able to ship cattle outside of the state for the past three years. For many producers, they're taking a loss of $50 to $100 per head of cattle. There are roughly 54,000 head of cattle in the U.P., so bovine tuberculosis is costing over $1 million per year for producers in the western U.P. That, combined with the mad cow incident, creates a lot of uncertainty in the industry. Beef prices are really fluctuating as a result of mad cow. About 4 percent to 8 percent of the beef we consume [in the United States] comes from Canada. I sure hope they find only one infected cow in Canada. If they have the backlog of cattle entering our markets in the fall, it could be disastrous.
Clarence Wilbur, Cattle Farmer
Cow-Calf Operator—Ontonagon, Mich.
600 head of cattle

It's really just hit. The most impact I feel is right now. Our own U.S. beef prices have gone through the roof. In a way, today, I noticed people didn't order as much because of the price. I don't see that customers are that concerned about not eating meat. Meat has roughly gone up $1 per pound in the past three weeks. I predict we'll have a strong market for the next month or so. Perhaps after the Fourth of July then people may start taking it off their menus.
Larry Stenz, Manager
Northwoods Foods Inc.—Minocqua, Wis.
Wholesale and retail meatpacking
10 employees