Fallout from BSE case temporary: Minister

Alberta is not expecting its international beef markets to start slamming shut their doors after the latest case of mad cow disease, says the province’s agriculture minister.

Alberta is not expecting its international beef markets to start slamming shut their doors after the latest case of mad cow disease, says the province’s agriculture minister.

Since the discovery of another case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered on an Alberta farm earlier this month, South Korea has banned imports of Canadian beef and Indonesia has stopped taking non-edible bone meal.

Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Verlyn Olson believes import restrictions on beef will be temporary and is not expecting other trading partners to impose import bans.

“I think we’ve been very proactive, and the federal government has been very proactive, in terms of talking to our trade partners,” said Olson, in speaking to media ahead of an appearance at the Alberta Beef Industry Conference in Red Deer on Thursday.

“We’re all subject to the same rules around the world. We follow the rules scrupulously and we have an expectation that our trading partners will have faith in the system, as we do.

“Can I guarantee that a trading partner won’t take some action? Of course, I can’t. We have seen it from time to time in the past where non-science-based barriers are put up as a convenient excuse.

“My expectation is people won’t be doing that and we’ll be watching very carefully,” he said.

“I’m very pleased with the efforts that have been undertaken by both industry and agencies.”

Olson was asked whether the timing was particularly bad for BSE to rear its head, considering the province’s economic pummelling from world oil markets.

“It’s never great timing,” he said. “But we have to live in the real world and it’s happening now so we’ll deal with it now.”

As Alberta’s second largest industry, and it’s largest renewable resource industry, agriculture stands to play a key role in future efforts to diversify the province’s economy — a goal that has been touted as critical if Alberta is to wean itself off dependence on fluctuating oil markets.

“We have huge opportunities. Eating isn’t going out of style. We have an exploding world population and we produce here in Alberta what the world wants in terms of high-quality, safe food.

“So we really should be embracing the opportunity to diversify.”

That means finding new markets, and Asia-Pacific is seen as a key part of agriculture’s future.

Olson pointed out that none of the three trade offices the government announced it was closing on Wednesday are in the Asia-Pacific region.

“There’s a reason for that. That is a huge area of opportunity for us.”

Conference speaker futurist and strategy consultant Bob Treadway also stressed the need for Canada to improve its supply management to become a player in world food markets.

To reach new markets, agriculture producers must understand what the world wants to eat.

For instance, one half of all of the world’s pork is eaten by one country, China.

The growing middle class in Asian-Pacific nations provides a huge market for producers to serve.

By 2025, it is estimated half of the world’s population will rely on imported food, he said.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

The Central Alberta Freestyle Ski Club is hoping to win $50,000 through the Mackenzie Investments Top Peak contest. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta ski club trying to win $50K in online contest

A central Alberta ski club has entered a contest where it can… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa on December 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives to call top Sajjan, Trudeau aides to testify on Vance allegations

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives plan to summon two senior Liberal aides… Continue reading

Elvira D'Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Several provinces were preparing to loosen COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, as Canada’s… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

A passenger places a tag on luggage at the departure terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, May 24, 2019. The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and familial connections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
As debate rages over cross-border pipelines, U.S. analysts brace for more oil by rail

WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian… Continue reading

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

VICTORIA — Legal experts and a mother whose ex-partner was convicted of… Continue reading

Radio and television personality Dick Smyth is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Dick Smyth, Canadian maestro of news radio commentary, dies at 86

TORONTO — Radio and television personality Dick Smyth, whose booming commentary filled… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

Most Read