The incredible foolishness of boycotting Alberta Beef

Photo: Canada Beef Inc.

Despite British Columbia Premier John Horgan’s assurance that getting involved in a trade war is not his intent, rumours of a looming Alberta Beef ban in the province continue to circulate. And where the rumours aren’t, the sudden, ill-advised political activists are — threatening boycotts of their own.

It all stems from an ongoing dispute between B.C. and Alberta, over the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, culminating (thus far) in Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announcing an immediate halt to imports of B.C. wine.

According to Notley, the action “will harm the BC wine industry”, which, in 2017, saw roughly 1.4 million cases cross the border, amounting to roughly $70 million.

Citizens of British Columbia are showing mixed responses to the announcement, and in the sand-flinging playground of social media, angry retorts of boycotting Alberta Beef are abound.

But here’s the thing.

Boycotting Alberta Beef is a kick in the teeth of B.C. producers.

That’s because not all ‘Alberta Beef’ is born and raised in the province. The consumer-branded product includes all beef produced in the province’s packing plants, even that which did not originate in the province.

“By WTO convention, the place of origin for a product is the location where the last substantial transformation of that product occurred,” reads the Alberta Beef Producers’ (ABP) webpage defining the product. “In what is clearly a substantial transformation, these plants all transform cattle into Alberta Beef.”

Interprovincial trade is incredibly important to Alberta’s beef production. According to ABP, Alberta consumes roughly 14% of its production, exporting approximately 29% internationally, and 58% inter-provincially.

And that’s important for B.C. beef producers too, who see the majority of their beef-destined animals exported (85-90%, according to the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association) — primarily to Alberta or the U.S. — for finishing and/or processing.

So that juicy Alberta Beef steak being boycotted in Vancouver? It might just have originated on a farm in the same province.

How embarrassing.


Debra Murphy

Debra Murphy is a Field Editor based out of central Alberta, where she never misses a moment to capture with her camera the real beauty of agriculture. Follow her on Twitter @RealAg_Debra


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