By Kristine Tapley, Beef Specialist, Ducks Unlimited Canada
With cattle markets falling, optimism in the industry can be trying. The beef industry has been struggling to retain and attract new producers while the average age of farmers, at 54, keeps creeping up. The next generation of cattle producers might be looking for something different from their career and potentially for good reason.
The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) released the National Beef Sustainability Assessment and Strategy this fall. This assessment gathered great detail from the Canadian beef industry from the three sustainability pillars: environment, social and economic. The Canadian beef industry garnered top marks in most categories; however, producer viability was a weak link in the system. According to long-term average margins, a cow herd of 200 head provides a total annual income of $17,559. Statistics Canada states this will not support a family and is below the low income cut-off. This causes 75 per cent to 84 per cent of people in the cow-calf sector to rely on off-farm employment.
How do we ask young people to invest themselves in the cattle industry when they will likely be overworked and underpaid? We need to find ways to bring profitability back into our industry if we want to keep cattle production sustainable.
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