One of Canada’s largest cattle feeder operations says it’s winding down its cattle ownership and cattle feeding operations.
Western Feedlots, which operates sites near Strathmore, High River and Mossleigh, says shareholders made the decision due to “strong headwinds” in the cattle industry, as well as what it calls a “high-risk/low-return environment.”
The company also says its decision was also based on the “poor political and economic environment in Alberta.”
Western Feedlots says it will continue to feed and market the existing cattle, and suspend feedlot operations once all have been sold.
Western will not be hiring employees, or purchasing feed grain or feeder cattle after that time.
It says farming operations will continue for the “foreseeable future.”
“Western would like to thank all our employees, suppliers and customers for their years of dedication and support and their continued understanding and co-operation,” the release said.
In a statement sent to Global News on Thursday, Western Feedlots CEO and President Dave Plett said the company is “taking this time to focus on our employees, assisting them in any needs they have to more forward and relocate to other employment.”
“We would like to thank them, as well as our suppliers and customers for their support and dedication for the last 58 years.”
Wildrose MLA Rick Strankman blamed the NDP government for Western Feedlots’ decision.
“It is deeply troubling to see yet another company, never mind one of Alberta’s largest feedlot companies, decide to slow down business and cease hiring of employees because of the NDP government’s risky and ideological agenda.
“My heart goes out to these employees who will join the list of over 100,000 Albertans out of work, and who see no future as the NDP continue to forge ahead with policies that will only further hurt our economy.”
On Wednesday evening, Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier issued a statement in response to the company’s announcement.
He said his government is aware “producers are hurting from the significant decrease in the price of cattle” and that the Notley government has “provided strong support for our cattle industry.”
You can read Carlier’s statement in its entirety below:
“It’s disappointing to hear about the job losses at Western Feedlots. We know producers are hurting from the significant decrease in the price of cattle. Our government has provided strong support for our cattle industry. We have supported investment to ensure market access for our producers. We have provided investment on innovation and research so our producers are on cutting edge of new technologies to support and protect our cattle industry. We had been a strong advocate to repeal the Country of Origin Labelling. We’ll continue to work with producers to grow our agriculture and agrifood sectors.”
-With files from CHQR and Phil Heidenreich.