| WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Sept 22
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Sept 22 The closure of one
of Canada's biggest cattle feedlots is likely to depress prices
of young cattle and the grains used to fatten them, and may
increase sales to the United States, industry officials say.
Alberta-based Western Feedlots said on Wednesday that it
will shut feeding operations early in 2017, citing poor market
conditions and unfavorable economic factors in the province.
"The market we're in now can't get much more depressed,"
said Martin Zuidhof, chairman of Alberta Cattle Feeders'
Association, a rancher who also runs a feedlot.
The price of young cattle is likely to face pressure, and if
it leads to fewer cattle raised in the province, could
jeopardize profits in the packing industry, he said.
The price of slaughter-weight cattle has dropped 30 percent
from a year ago.
Alberta's two biggest beef packers, Cargill Ltd
and JBS USA Holdings Inc, declined to comment.
Barley and wheat are fed to cattle to fatten them for
slaughter, and Western's closure may also weigh on prices of
those grains if feeder cattle numbers dip, Zuidhof said.
Canada is the world's sixth-largest beef exporter, and
Alberta raises more cattle than any other province.
Canadian cattle prices are mostly affected by U.S. prices
and the value of the Canadian dollar, although domestic
conditions play a role, said livestock industry analyst Kevin
Grier. Consumer meat prices are unlikely to be affected by one
feedlot's closure, he said.
"In principle, it's going to depress the demand for feeder
cattle," he said. Western's closure may result in ranchers
selling more young cattle to U.S. feedlots, he said.
Despite Western's plan to stop fattening cattle, Alberta is
not likely to lose more feedlots, the province's agriculture
minister said. Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier said he spoke
with a feedlot industry group last week.
"No one indicated that to me," Carlier said in an interview.
"There is good news on the horizon and I'm hoping the decision
taken by Western Feedlots was ... not going to affect the rest
of the industry."
Carlier said his government, criticized by Western, has
supported the cattle industry, including increasing a loan
guarantee program for producers.
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by