(Saskatoon)-JBS, the world’s largest meat packing corporation, is in line to take over the troubled XL Foods Lakeside beef processing plant. Owned in part by the Brazilian government (30%), JBS operates in the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, China, Russia, Australia, Italy and Mexico. Also included in the potential deal is XL’s Calgary meat packing plant, 70,000 head feedlot, 4,000 acres of Alberta farmland and two American beef slaughterhouses.
The pending acquisition by JBS has serious implications for Canadian cattle farmers, as well the Canadian food system. If the sale proceeds, two foreign companies, JBS and Cargill, would control well over 80% of Canada’s beef processing. The National Farmers Union is calling upon the Canadian government to review this takeover to protect the interests of small and medium-sized Canadian businesses in the beef sector and protect Canada’s sovereignty over our food system.
“The fear of collapsing prices for cattle, and of the 2,000 jobs that could be lost and the impact that would have on Brooks, pale in comparison to what it would mean for Canada to lose control of her cattle slaughter capacity,” said Neil Peacock, cattle farmer and NFU Board member from Sexsmith, Alberta. “The JBS take-over is not a silver bullet that will solve the problems in the beef industry. What we need is a major overhaul of federal meat policy to restrain packer power by reversing concentration and decoupling vertically integrated packers. We need to tailor food safety regulations to encourage local abattoirs that could serve markets in every region. And finally, we need to build collective cattle marketing agencies that will ensure an efficient, fair and transparent market for both buyers and sellers.”
“JBS already controls more than a third of the US beef market – and would have controlled more if the threat of an antitrust lawsuit had not stopped its plans to buy out National Beef Packing in 2009,” noted Terry Boehm, National Farmers Union President. “JBS has been consolidating its operations into fewer and larger plants in every country where it operates. It has bought up and then closed down feedlots and packing plants which pushes cattle prices down and increases the company’s global profits.”
Boehm concluded, “Letting this company take over such a large proportion of Canada’s beef processing industry, hot on the heels of allowing our largest grain company, Viterra, to be sold to the Swiss company Glencore, begs the question of whether the government of Canada has any interest at all in retaining Canadian control of our food supply,”.
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