As the large pricing gap continues between cattle producers, feeders, packers and retailers, the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) is now looking for answers from the Canadian federal government as to why and what can be done about it. Although the price gap concerns have been looming for quite awhile, it has widened since the onset of the pandemic.
The Stock Growers say that the livestock industry is hitting a critical point where losing cattle and producers is a very real concern.
Garner Deobald is a rancher and president of the SSGA, and says although this probe into pricing is in the beginning stages, it’s a process that needed to be started to get some answers.
“There’s no time like the present, if we just sit back and do nothing, nothing will happen, for sure, that’s guaranteed. So we need to look at this, find out and get some facts down and see if we can come up with some kind of a strategy that may help and support some producers to stay within the industry,” says Deobald.
The call to the federal government isn’t pinpointing one part of the supply chain, Deobald says they want an investigation done on the entire chain, from producer, to packer and through to retailer to determine where the breakdown is and why the producer is getting left behind in a market where other blocks in the chain are doing quite well.
Livestock producers, despite being the heart and soul of the industry, don’t have the luxury, or opportunity, to pass increased expenses on to anyone. They are bound by market prices for their cattle, they are bound by feed and other input prices and are left trying to juggle it all, trying to stay afloat and profitable while also providing the population with quality food.
This is the issue that the SSGA is looking to have addressed and with any luck, have a solution discovered. Therein lies a potential hurdle however, unintentional consequences. Could putting the beef market under the microscope result in more regulations for the industry? Deobald and the SSGA say increased regulations isn’t something they are wanting or hoping for but he restates that if you don’t try to get answers, you don’t know what solutions might lie ahead. In the case of unfavourable byproducts of this requested investigation, those would be dealt with and hopefully rectified to be in favour of the industry, if and when they arose.
In the meantime, Deobald says they are trudging forward with their request for the pricing investigation and will be looking to local Members of Parliament for their support in the matter. As we’ve seen recently with the success of the lobbying efforts for the front of package labelling, there is power in numbers and the squeaky wheel does inevitably get the grease and the SSGA is looking for a similar result in this situation.