Last year's mad cow costing Canadian producers big

November 30, 2004, as reported by Canadian cattle producers continue to suffer from a single mad cow nearly a year and a half ago. It is estimated producers have lost a total of C$5bn (US$4.2bn) according to a report from the economics department of Montreal-based bank BMO. The US border has been shut to live Canadian cattle since May 2003, when the infected cow was discovered in Alberta.

"In economic terms, the closing of the border has been devastating to Canadian ranchers and their families," said Rick Egelton, senior vice president and deputy chief economist, BMO Financial Group. "Cattle producers have been hit by lower output, weaker prices, and narrowing margins."

The report goes on to note that although cattle prices have risen from their lows immediately following the May 2003 announcement, they remain weak today. Moreover, the large increase in the number of cattle on farms suggests that prices could remain soft during the next year, even if cross-border markets are reopened.