June 6, 2008 / 11:10 AM / in 10 years

Alberta cattle, hog farmers get C$300 million aid

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - The provincial government in Alberta, Canada’s largest beef-producing province, said on Thursday it will give livestock farmers C$300 million ($294 million) to deal with poor prices and high costs.

But Alberta’s farm minister said farmers will be required to provide information and participate in a new traceability system that he said would help transform the industry.

“Alberta’s livestock industry is facing significant challenges and needs a major and fundamental change,” George Groeneveld said in a statement.

The rising Canadian dollar has made the export-dependent beef and pork industries less competitive at a time of low prices and record-high feed costs.

Labor shortages in the oil-rich province have also hurt major slaughter plants.

Farmers will receive C$150 million now and another C$150 million after they register herd data with a new livestock information database, the government said.

The system will help trace animals during disease outbreaks and could be used for certifying consumer-driven products such as hormone-free, range-fed, grass-fed, humanely raised or naturally raised meats, the government said.

Alberta is home to 5.56 million cattle, representing 67 percent of fed cattle production in the country. The province produces 1.68 million hogs and has about 15 percent of Canada’s hog slaughter capacity.

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

Reporting by Roberta Rampton; editing by Jim Marshall

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