Klein's incineration plan won't help ranchers: economist
Premier Ralph Klein has an idea for getting rid of potentially infectious slaughter-house waste. Burn it.
Klein is suggesting the waste be incinerated at the Swan Hills toxic waste plant to prevent the spread of any potential new BSE infection.
But a farm economist says, while the Premier's intentions are good, his plan would actually bleed the industry of millions of dollars and force some ranchers to shut down.
Jim Unterschultz says beef producers now sell that waste for tens of millions of dollars a year and would also be on the hook for the cost of shipping the waste to Swan Hills.
He says consumers won't pay more, so slaughter houses could only pass the losses on the ranchers.
"Supply and demand at the consumer side really sets the price," Unterschultz said. "So the only way that they can in the long run make up this difference of $50 or more per animal is to pay less for the calves that they buy."
Untershultz says lower profit margins would put some ranchers out of the industry but added it might be the cost of assuring Americans that Alberta beef is safe.