Behind the big business of Edmonton’s Farmfair International

Watch above:  A good showing at the rodeo can earn competitors a pretty big pay cheque, but the real money is next door at Farm Fair. Kent Morrison explains.

EDMONTON — While the Canadian Finals Rodeo can mean a big payday for those competing, even more money is being made next door at the Expo Centre.

That’s where cattle producers from all over western Canada have come to show off and sell their livestock from Nov. 4 to 9. And this year, they have reason to celebrate.

“Our beef prices have soared to probably the highest they’ve ever been,” said show manager Dave Fiddler.

READ MORE: Red meat prices still through the roof, Stats Canada data shows

Fiddler estimates the show brings in up to $50 million a year for producers. More than $5 million of that comes from international clients.

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In-country ambassadors are tasked with recruiting buyers from places like Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, the U.K. and Australia. The reason they come to Edmonton’s Farmfair? To get their hands on some world-class Canadian cattle genetics.

“Many years ago the only thing you could send overseas is live cattle which is fairly cost prohibitive,” said Dawn Wilson of Miller Wilson Angus.

She explains that the cattle would have to be quarantined and be forced to take a long boat ride.

“Now we can take embryos out of cows, freeze them cryogenetically, send the embryos over for relatively cheaply. They put them into other cows there and you’ll have resulting genetics from this country over there.”

Bull semen is also up for grabs.

Producers estimate that a prize winning cow or bull could earn its owner an average of about $200,000 during its lifetime.

The main cattle shows are Friday at the Edmonton Expo Centre. You can find out more information about Farmfair International here.

With files from Kent Morrison, Global News

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