Front Burner

Alberta beef, outbreaks and the flaws of industrial farming

Today we explore what the pandemic is revealing about the Canadian meat processing industry and how it’s affecting the whole chain — from Alberta cattle ranchers to food inspectors.
Bob Low, a rancher and part-owner of a feedlot just west of Nanton, Alta., has about 4,000 head of cattle waiting to be processed in his pens. They were bound for the Cargill plant in High River, which is now temporarily closed to due the COVID-19 pandemic. (CBC News)

Cattle farmers are having a hard week. The beef industry was already struggling after deadly, mass outbreaks of COVID-19 hit the heart of Canada's meat processing industry in Alberta, causing temporary closures, slowdowns in production and a backlog of cattle.

Then on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump mused about the possibility of terminating trade deals that allow for imports of live cattle.

Paula Simons is an independent senator from Edmonton and a former journalist who covered Alberta's cattle industry. She was also one of the first to speak out about food inspector safety during the pandemic. Today, she shares her thoughts about Alberta beef, meat processing and why she thinks industrial farming needs to change.

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