Tyson cutting back on Canada raised cattle

Oct 25, 2013

Tyson Foods has stopped buying Canadian cattle for shipment to its U.S. beef plants, citing the impact of U.S. country-of-origin labeling rules (COOL), company officials confirmed last week.

According to the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC), there is no confirming news release or “letter” by Tyson, however they have had direct personal confirmation from Tyson leadership. According to LMIC, Tyson will no longer accept category “C” steers and heifers (cattle directly for slaughter from Canada) but are continuing to accept category “B” (cattle born in Canada but raised in the U.S.).

Tyson will keep processing Mexican cattle as those are imported as calves or “B” category, according to Jim Robb, with LMIC.

The new policy became effective in mid-October, according to Tyson officials.

“Like many others in the North American beef industry, we’re very disappointed by the changes made in the U.S. country of origin labeling rules. These new rules significantly increase costs because they require additional product codes, production breaks and product segregation, including a separate category for cattle shipped directly from Canada to U.S. beef plants without providing any incremental value to our customers,” company spokesman Worth Sparkman told the Meatingplace.

Tyson does not have enough warehouse capacity to accommodate the proliferation of products requiring different types of labels due to the regulation, he added.

“As a result, we have discontinued buying cattle shipped to our U.S. beef plants directly from Canada, effective this week, but will continue to seek alternatives that will allow us to resume importing cattle directly from Canada,” Sparkman said.

“We remain hopeful that these new rules will eventually be rescinded and we’ll be able to resume buying cattle directly from Canadian cattle feeders,” he said.

The United States published its updated countryof-origin labeling rule earlier this year, and the Canadian and Mexican governments followed with a request for the World Trade Organization compliance panel to review the U.S. COOL law. It could be as early as 2014 before the panel completes its review of the regulations, which are scheduled to be enforced starting in November. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor