Lethbridge County’s ‘head tax,’ WCB premiums, and a looming carbon tax are making his business uneconomical, says a prominent feeder
By Jennifer Blair
Other cattle feeders in southern Alberta may suffer the same fate as Western Feedlots if a local $3-per-head tax isn’t reversed.
Last month, Western Feedlots — one of the country’s largest with 100,000-head capacity at its facilities near Strathmore, High River, and Mossleigh — announced that it would be winding down cattle ownership and feeding operations.
The company said the decision was a result of “the current high-risk/low-return environment in cattle ownership.”
“In addition to strong headwinds in the cattle industry, the poor political and economic environment in Alberta are also contributing factors to this decision,” said Western Feedlots in a statement.
Fed cattle prices peaked at around $180 in May 2015 and have since dropped to around $120 a head. As a result, cattle feeders have seen diminishing returns on cattle bought at those high 2015 prices.
But southern Alberta cattle feeders say there is a deeper issue caused by “regulatory and tax burdens.”
“Business needs some certainty,” said Rick Paskal, president of Van Raay Paskal Farms Ltd., which has seven feedlots in southern Alberta with capacity for up to 130,000 head.
“When you challenge the intensive livestock industry the way the county has and other governments have, we’re really concerned for our longevity in this business.”
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