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Border blockades in Canada hinders U.S. cattle and beef shipments

Beef Transport
Beef shipment to the U.S.

The U.S is the largest destination for Canada’s live cattle and beef exports. According to the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canada exports these agricultural goods to 62 countries but is reliant on the U.S. for 72 percent of them.

Canada is facing blockades and protests regarding COVID-19 restrictions at the Coutts, Alberta and Sweet Grass Montana border. These blockages are hindering exporting and importing of meat and grain across the border, which could spell economic harm to the industry.

Shaun Haney, Founder and Publisher of Real Agriculture in Alberta says the protests are impacting both the Canadian and U.S beef industries.

“It's been a pretty divisive situation here this week in southern Alberta. You know, trade across the Canada US border is absolutely critical for Canada's economy specifically for the beef industry. That's kind of the main laneway for live cattle leaving southern Alberta to go to Hyrum, Utah,” said Haney.

Protests regarding COVID-19 requirements started January 29 and quickly turned into a full blockade of both north and south lanes on the Canadian border. This border is only one of three that allow for importing boxed beef and live cattle to the U.S.

Recent reports mention that after negotiations with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) the border has been able to resume shipments as the protests continue.

“Yeah, I think what it speaks to is amongst the farming community, and in many counties in general, same in the US, there's a lot of frustration, and lack of patience at this point when it comes to the pandemic. And in quite frankly from a Canadian perspective, our restrictions have been, I would say, much stricter,” said Haney.

As the beef industry tries to catch up from the week’s disruption, the protests continue.

“I texted with the protester yesterday. They seem very resolute. They intend on staying there, keeping spirits high, ”said Haney.

Continued delays could cause plants such as JBS to shut down for one to three days.