Alberta has introduced an incentive program to try to keep so-called "heavies" out of the feedlot system, thereby reducing the supply of beef and hopefully raising the at-slaughter price.
The Alberta Agricultural Minister introduced the program Friday, saying that the 10-week border clampdown by the United States is a crisis that requires a variety of measures to solve.
"We knew when we were going into this that we were going into uncharted waters," Shirley McClellan told a news conference before announcing the incentive program. "[It]continues to be extremely difficult times for our industry. It is an extraordinary event that has occurred, it does requires extraordinary measures."
Calling it "a fat-cattle competitive-bid program," Ms. McClellan said that the program is designed to reduce the number of heavy fat steer and heifers available for slaughter.
"We're looking at aiming this mainly at what we would call 'the heavies,' animals that are heavier than would normally be in the feedlot at this time," she said. "We think this will improve our producers' cash flow [and]we think it should have an upward impact on market price at the slaughter.
Ms. McClelland said that there would be incentives provided to producers who either set aside their own "heavies" for at least 60 days or who sell them to someone who agrees to hold them out of the feedlot system.
"We think this will put a few more buyers in the system," she said. "It'll take some of the cattle out [and]take some of the pressure off."
Alberta beef producers have been especially hard-hit by Washington's insistence on closing the borders after the discovery of a single cow with BSE, popularly called "mad-cow disease." The borders have been closed for more than two months and there is no end in sight.
Ms. McClelland also called Friday for a national loan-guarantee program.
"We think producers need all of the options that they have to survive over the next month," she said. "Loans aren't a long-term solution but they will help with cash-flow until borders reopen."