Livestock Processing

Livestock Processing Saskatchewan accommodates 6 million hectares of pasture land, home to 30% of the cowherd in Canada. Saskatchewan’s cattle herd is the second largest in the country at 2.715 million head (July 2015). Farm Credit Corporation predicts the livestock industry will see mixed results in 2016.

Moose Jaw remains an important beef production area in the province, having weathered some difficult years. Cattle prices are expected to retreat, resulting in tighter profit margins for feed-lots. Cow-calf operations are expected to remain profitable with producers facing tighter margins than previous years. Heartland Livestock and JGL Livestock are examples of two companies who have put Moose Jaw on the map, buying, selling and finishing cattle. Existing beef feedlots and finishing facilities provide economic spin-offs to the region.

Unfortunately, a United States policy has cut into Canadian beef producer’s bottom lines COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) laws requires that all packaged meat identify where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. The World Trade Organization ruled against the US saying that COOL’s segregating and tracking requirements is costing the industry over a billion dollars a year, and violates free-trade agreements. The federal government has threatened to implement retaliatory tariffs if the US does not comply. The U.S. Senate is now under pressure to comply thanks to support from over 250 U.S. companies who are expressing their concern over the possible $1 billion in tariffs on a wide range of products if this requirement for labeling by country of origin is not eliminated.

The province’s hog industry is thriving with over $228 million annually in revenues. Hog operation profits are projected to stay in line with the five-year average, benefiting from a strong pork demand from China. Saskatchewan markets 8 per cent of all hogs in Canada, around 2.1 million hogs every year, but still has one of the lowest concentrations of pigs per square mile of arable farmland in the world at 16.6. This compares to Alberta at 41.3 hogs per square mile, Manitoba at 142.7 while Iowa records 457.3 hogs per square mile.

Moose Jaw’s Thunder Creek Pork Plant, owned by Donald’s Fine Foods, opened in 2011 and is processing provincial hogs for export. It is the only hog packing plant in the province, processing up to 6,000 hogs a week. The company is a major employer with approximately 200 workers creating significant economic spin-off to the city and province.

Although the XL Beef processing plant has remained closed for several years, local stakeholders hope to see it re-open one day.

Labour shortages in the slaughtering and processing sector are especially hard hit by the changes, have been exacerbated following the federal government 2015 cap on the number of new foreign workers that companies can hire at 10 per cent in 2016. The industry says that it wants to hire Canadians to fill jobs but unfortunately according to the Canadian Meat Councils, “if the there aren’t Canadians wanting to do the job, then we wish to bring in people who want to immigrate to Canada and be Canadian citizens”. The industry says “we don’t want temporary foreign workers, we want permanent workers.”

LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS Farmer’s Markets across Canada are seeing significant increases in sales, and the future looks bright as their economic impact exceeds $5 billion nationally. Even with higher price points, the farmers’ market movement is making inroads. Farmers markets are generating economic growth for local economies and giving consumers localization of foods, organic foods and that agrarian connection that they desire. And consumers are willing to pay more. During the summer, the Moose Jaw Farmers’ Markets attracts a steady stream of visitors to its downtown.