Cow Herd Expansion in the North
Working towards a solution to the critical decline in beef production in Ontario, BFO together with the provincial government have investigated the viability of developing a new beef production system beginning with expanding the cow herd in Northern Ontario. The objective of this system is to attract new investment, bring profitability to the industry, and be sustainable for future generations.
BFO is now in the process of the next phase of this long-term initiative with a focus on implementation strategies which includes wider producer/stakeholder engagement, developing resources, and mentorship training and support.
To support these efforts, BFO developed a dedicated website as the hub for "all things beef in the north". We encourage you to visit the site at www.beefnorth.com!
Existing Cow Herd Expansion
To complement the efforts of the expansion strategy in Northern Ontario, BFO is also identifying opportunities and pathways for the economically-viable expansion of Southern and Eastern Ontario's cow herd. Facilitated meetings have been held and will continue across the southern/eastern regions of Ontario to consult with beef farmers, crop farmers and other stakeholders on what is needed to encourage expansion.
- The key ideas and priority areas for exisiting expansion include financial assistance for fencing, improving the Ontario beef breeder finance program and the potential of cover crop grazing.
State of the Industry
The decline in beef production in the province is the result of a number of factors such as the lack of profitability for farmers since BSE, land that is being converted from pasture to cash crops due to ethanol policies, and strong crop prices, and the cost of entry due to high land prices.
As a result of the decline in the cow herd:
- Processing plants are having a difficult time sourcing cattle.
- Our premium Ontario branded beef program needs more cattle than is available.
- Ontario feedlots produce about 600,000 finished animals per year, with less than half of those calves coming from Ontario.
- The decline in production has a direct impact on jobs and income for the province as well as industry infrastructure such as processing plants and auction markets.