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Effects Of Mad Cow Crisis Still Linger In Canada's Beef Industry, Says Census

17 May 2007

CANADA - Cattle producer John Hrasko took no pleasure watching his herd grow over the last few years as the economics of the mad cow disease scare squeezed joy and profit from his mixed farm.
Prices plummeted as world markets slammed shut to Canadian beef in May 2003, when bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was found in an Alberta heifer.

Unwilling to take an even bigger loss, Hrasko, like thousands of other Canadian producers, decided not to sell off his older breeding stock - which then had more calves.

New Statistics Canada numbers show that the size of Canada's beef herd increased to 15.8 million as of May 16, 2006 - nearly two per cent higher than in 2001.

"This has taken the glow off of the cattle market," said Hrasko, 71, who operates a cow-calf operation with two of his sons west of Edmonton.

"You don't have people buying and selling cattle optimistically."

While the partial reopening of the U.S. market to younger cattle in 2005 has bolstered prices somewhat, the border remains closed to cattle over 30 months of age and to live breeding stock - the segments of Canada's beef herd responsible for most of the increase to the overall herd.

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