CALGARY, ALBERTA — The Canadian Cattle Association (CCA), National Cattle Feeders’ Association (NCFA) and Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) issued a joint press release on June 24 to strongly encourage the Cargill Dunlop facility in Guelph, Ontario, and members of the UFCW Local 175 to quickly reach a labor resolution.

The groups noted that there has been no indication of upcoming talks or negotiations that would initiate an end to the strike that began on May 27.

“Canadian beef producers rely on a strong and stable supply chain to get beef to Canadians and our global customers as efficiently as possible,” said Nathan Phinney, president of CCA. “While we fully respect and support the collective bargaining process, we cannot turn a blind eye on the effect this stalemate is having on our beef industry. Both sides are urged to expedite their negotiations to find a solution as soon as possible.”

CCA, NCFA and BFO represent Canada’s 60,000 beef producers, including 19,000 producers in Ontario. The Canadian beef sector relies on a resilient processing industry. Beef producers in eastern Canada are particularly experiencing the impacts of the strike.

The Cargill Dunlop facility supports several regional brands and programs. The plant processes approximately 75% of the cattle in Ontario and fills 67% of the federally inspected processing capacity in eastern Canada.

“The challenges that come with the loss of eastern Canada’s largest beef processor cannot be understated,” said Craig McLaughlin, BFO president. “Ontario is the second largest cattle feeding province in the country, and our members rely on the important work of our processing partners and their role in getting beef on the plates of consumers here in Ontario and around the world. With each passing day, the consequences of the Cargill Dunlop labor strike continue to mount for our feedlot sector, beef supply chain partners, and our farmers’ ability to cash flow their operations.  BFO urges both sides to work toward an immediate resolution of this dispute.” 

To mitigate the effects of the strike, Ontario beef producers have been sourcing alternative facilities in Canada and the United States to process their cattle and have been keeping cattle on farm for a longer period of time. Both mitigation strategies come with unique challenges and additional costs. As the strike enters its fifth week, the beef sector voiced concern for the sustainability of these efforts.

“NCFA urges both parties to negotiate a swift resolution,” said Will Lowe, NCFA board chair. “Cargill Guelph is the major plant supporting Canada’s largest fed-cattle region in the country after Alberta. This disruption is difficult for beef producers who are already facing multiple other challenges.”