December 27, 2010 Why do we import cattle?
MeatingPlace reports a Manitoba, Canada, veterinarian has pleaded guilty to two counts of contravening the Health of Animals Act after having admitted to falsely claiming that he inspected them before deeming them suitable for export to the United States, the Toronto Sun reported.
The veterinarian, Early Van Assen received a $10,000 fine for taking the owner’s word regarding the age of his cattle instead of performing a proper inspection, the newspaper reported. USDA requires Canadian veterinarians to certify that cattle to be exported to the Unites States were born after March 1999, a provision put in place following BSE issues in the early 1990s.
With all the problems USA cattle producers have had developing and keeping their export market, this seems to be a perfect example of why. When we cannot verify imported cattle age and history, how do we expect our export partners to trust us?
It speaks to the issue of expanding our own livestock industry from cow to slaughter and saying no to imported feeders of any species. Developing a market that makes USA breeding herds profitable will ensure export partners who trust us.
For the last five years, a typical producer might have cumulatively made $140-$150/head. That’s not a huge incentive to increase the herd size, especially given the high capital costs associated with cow-calf production that keep return on investment to historical levels around 3- 4 percent. What we’ve seen was a market drive to replace cold cows with young strong cows but not to expand the cow herds. It is going to take some guts to forgo selling high-priced feeder heifers and bred them, but the industry has to expand the cow herd to fill feedlots and satisfy export buyer concerns.