Milk-fed calf farmers are asking for emergency assistance from the Quebec government after the COVID-19 crisis caused the closure of restaurants, tourism activity and exports.
The group that represents the 117 milk-fed calf breeders in Quebec cites recent data that suggests losses suffered by farms over the last seven months amount to 11 per cent per animal sold, far outweighing the typical profit margin of around one per cent.
Farmers are therefore asking for direct assistance of $121 per calf, claiming that the income security programs already in place do not meet the exceptional needs of businesses.
In 2019, 100 per cent of the 80,000 Canadian milk-fed calves were produced in Quebec. A typical farm produces about 940 suckling calves per year, according to the organization Les Producteurs de bovins du Québec.
The province’s largest meat processing plant employs the equivalent of 550 people who mainly process milk-fed meat.
A decrease in the production of milk-fed calves would force milk producers to find other outlets for their male dairy calves and for their dairy byproducts, according to Les Producteurs de bovins du Québec.