From cattlemen and their organizations comes an insistent query, “When will Ottawa permit us to ship our cattle to the United States?”
That question must be answered unequivocally by the Dominion government. It had authority to take away the right of private export; it has the authority to restore it. Logic now dictates that the Canadian restriction on private exports of cattle to the United States should be removed.
When control of industry and prices became necessary during the war and when Mutual Aid and Lend-Lease were operating the cattleman who had voluntarily surrendered his right to private export raised no objection. He pointed out from time to time that he thought the southern market should be serviced with small shipments to keep trade channels open — other Canadian industries were permitted to do that — but he never did and never will agree to an indefinite suspension of one of his basic rights, namely to market his product to his natural market or to any other market he desires.
The United Kingdom market, shorn of sentimental considerations, is an uneconomic one for Canada’s cattleman. With high production costs and heavy transportation charges he can never hope to compete with low-cost countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Australia. The United Kingdom contract entered into by the Dominion government without consultation with the industry’s organizations serves to channel Canadian beef to a market which may prove in the long run to be disastrous to one of Canada’s basic industries and detrimental to Canada’s national economy.
Cattlemen have found that costs of practically all items used by them have risen with no corresponding rise in cattle prices permitted. Many of the items used, ranging from trucks, cars, haying equipment through to citrus fruits are purchased from the South at U.S. prices and on a free economy in which grass steers are readily selling for 25 cents per pound. Canadian ranchers are obliged to pay these prices with 12-cent steers.
Today Canada is confronted with a shortage of U.S. dollars brought about by an adverse trade balance. Defeatists are advocating the short-sighted policy of restricting imports from the United States; others see the necessity of increasing exports.
Some government advisers have stated that the United States does not want Canadian cattle. This is untrue. The United States position is clearly stated in the following from a high official of the U.S. Department of State.
From the Manitoba Co-operator website: No changes seen to COOL in new U.S. Farm Bill
“With regard to the department’s attitude toward the importation of Canadian cattle, it is our desire that all wartime controls be ended as soon as the purpose for which they were imposed cease to exist. This is in accord with our commercial-policy objective of an expanding international trade open to private enterprise on a competitive and non-discriminatory basis. The Canadian government has expressed a similar attitude. Therefore, if the Canadian government should be willing to allow the exportation of cattle to the United States, the department would have no objection. Cattle imported into the United States would, of course, be subject to import duties as modified under the Trade Agreement Act.”
Recently persistent inquiries have been received from the South and especially from California for feeder cattle. The embargo placed against imports of cattle from Mexico because of foot-and-mouth disease in Mexican herds has deprived American feeders of half a million head of cattle per annum. They are anxious to purchase the healthy northern feeder cattle. Opportunity lies ahead for the Canadian cattlemen but this opportunity may be realized only if the Dominion government removes its present embargo on shipments to the South. The time for action is now when fall marketings are commencing and heavy supplies are in prospect.