No beef shortage expected, despite plant closure: Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the country shouldn’t expect beef shortages due to the temporary closure of a large processing facility after a COVID-19 outbreak, but prices may go up.

Cargill Inc.’s High River, Alta., plant temporarily shuttered operations after a worker died because of the coronavirus and hundreds of other employees tested positive.

Trudeau says beef producers and associations have said they would prioritize ensuring Canadian supply before exports, so no beef shortage is anticipated currently.

University of Guelph associate professor Mike Von Massow says Canada would have to see months-long closures of multiple plants before seeing beef shortages at grocery stores.

He says farmers, however, will feel the brunt of the closures as they will have to pay the price to send their cattle further for processing or to house their herds longer.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association called for federal government assistance in a statement Monday as its economic scenarios project the industry could lose more than $500 million in revenue by the end of June.