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Canadian cattle exports to the U.S. seen increasing in 2006

Agriculture.com Staff 01/16/2006 @ 1:53pm

As more countries re-open their markets to U.S. beef that will increase demand for Canadian cattle coming to the U.S. in 2006, Dennis Laycraft, Canadian Cattlemen's Association executive director, told Agriculture Online on Monday.

"U.S. beef processors are active and there seems to be a strong sense of confidence in resumption of trade with Japan, and Korea," Laycraft said.

In May 2003, the U.S. closed its border to live Canadian cattle when a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, was discovered.

From mid-July 2005, when the U.S. re-opened its border to Canadian live cattle until Dec. 31, 2005, about 524,000 head were imported.

In 2006, Laycraft estimated between 700,000-1.0 million Canadian cattle would be shipped into the U.S. for finishing and eventual slaughter.

"Before the border was re-opened we couldn't handle the market ready cattle. Right now, we have the largest calf-crop in a while and our feedlots are full. Because of all of this, the demand is high for Canadian live cattle within the U.S. packing industry," Laycraft said.

Because Canada increased its slaughter capacity in 2005, Laycraft isn't anticipating a flood of live cattle being shipped to the United States. By mid-2006, Canadian cattle slaughter numbers could reach 106,000 head per week. "Right now, our slaughter numbers are at 85%-90% of that."

Meanwhile, Laycraft hoped the U.S. would relax its import restrictions to allow live Canadian cattle over 30-months of age.

"Access to over 30 month aged cattle should open up in the third or fourth quarters of 2006," Laycraft said.

Overall, the flexibility of moving cattle to where the feeding costs are the lowest will largely affect exports to the U.S., Laycraft said.

"Because feeder cattle flow to where the feed is the cheapest, a lot will depend on what happens this summer with the weather," Laycraft said. In 2002, when Canada experienced a 50-year drought, 1.6 million head of feeder cattle entered the United States.

As more countries re-open their markets to U.S. beef that will increase demand for Canadian cattle coming to the U.S. in 2006, Dennis Laycraft, Canadian Cattlemen's Association executive director, told Agriculture Online on Monday.

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