Our Beef Must
Remarks by the
Hon. David Kilgour,
Parliament for Edmonton Southeast and
State for Asia-Pacific
to the Beef
Rally at Memorial Centre, Red Deer
August 23, 2003
are representatives from the Beef Industry who, over the last 10 years, have
worked to make our industry the safest in the world.
We have elected people from different parties who have united to lobby
industries and governments abroad. We
have citizens and families who have rallied behind our beef producers and
supported their products-settling for nothing less than 100% Alberta Beef.
The sum of these
parts is a community, and when this community says, "Get off the Fence and
Open the Border," we say it loudly and we say it strongly.
We will not be ignored.
Our efforts have
resulted in the partial opening of the US and Mexican borders.
This is real progress given that the US and Mexico are our largest beef
customers, purchasing a combined $2 billion annually worth of Canadian beef
opening represents approximately 50% of our beef sales to the United States.
Resumed trade to the US alone is estimated to generate $700 million.
In addition to these revenues, the opening of the US border, even if only
partial, signals to the rest of the world that our beef is safe.
Mexico's border opened after the US announcement, and numerous other
countries indicated willingness to re-open their borders once the US ban was
confidence in our product is an important negotiating point that can be used
with the Japanese- the third largest consumer of our beef products, and a large
consumer of the cattle we export to the United States.
The reality that our beef is among the safest in the world was a key
message that I delivered during a trip to Japan in early July- almost
immediately after the Japanese government announced that it would be requiring
the country of origin of all beef imports to be clearly labeled.
My purpose in
meeting with senior legislators and officials in Tokyo and in other major cities
was on outlining the many steps we have taken- both in recent years and since
the discovery of our single case of BSE- to enhance our already first-class food
inspection system. I emphasized
that all decisions should be based on science and international standards that
we have achieved and surpassed.
re-opening has helped revive an industry on the brink of disaster, but the
crisis is not over. The trade in
live cattle remains blocked. This
represents a huge blow to our beef industry given that in 2002, more than half a
million head of live cattle were shipped from Alberta alone to the U.S..
More than 28 countries maintain their bans on our products.
Even with the partial opening, there will still be an oversupply of
cattle because our domestic meat packing industry will not be able to process
all the remaining animals. Our
producers will still struggle to compensate for the estimated $11 million they
lost every day during the total ban.
No one should
forget that Alberta's largest agricultural sector is still experiencing a major
crisis. Representatives from all
levels of government have continued to deliver the message that our beef is
safe. The Prime Minister has taken
the issue up with the Japanese Prime Minister and with several representatives
from the United States. Face to
face meetings between agricultural ministers will continue to take place,
officials at Canadian embassies abroad are still representing your interests,
and members of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are spreading the message
that we have some of the highest safety standards in the world.
progress we hope to make, compensation for the lost days remains an issue.
The federal government has pledged $190 million to aid our cattle
producers, and various provincial governments have done the same, with Alberta's
government matching federal aid.
and Albertans generally, have shown incredible support for our industry.
Events like this will help keep the issue in the minds of Canadians, and
help keep the pressure on.
to all of you for being here today, and lending your voices to an important