Letter to the Federal Minister of Agriculture: CCCB Social Affairs Commission is concerned with the situation of cattle farmers in our country

Wednesday, April 28 2004

The Honourable Bob Speller, P.C., M.P.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Sir John Carling Building
930 Carling Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0C5

Fax: (613) 759-1081

Dear Mr. Speller,

As you and the Prime Minister meet with senior officials of the United States of America later this week, I write to express our grave concern with the situation of cattle farmers in our country.

We are worried that farm incomes dropped to historic lows in 2003. At their latest meeting, the Bishops of the Western Catholic Conference expressed particular anxiety about the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) outbreak that has affected so many people. The bishops fully sympathized with the concern of the priests of the Lethbridge Pastoral Zone, who communicated “a real fear of ruin in many farming families and those associated with the farming industry.”

We are aware that in late March the government announced an assistance plan for those affected by the BSE situation. As well, we noted the recent decision of American authorities to allow some beef exports to resume. The interim report of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, released on April 15th, states that, “the discovery of a single case of BSE clearly indicated two main weaknesses of the Canadian cattle industry: its huge dependence on cattle export and the concentration of its packing sector.” We realize that over the long term, such major issues relating to the proper stewardship of God’s creation will have to be addressed.

Our hope is that the federal government’s recent initiatives produce substantial and timely economic results for those farm families that are most directly suffering from this crisis. We pray that your meetings with American officials this week may also provide hard-hit farm families with new reason to hope for a more secure future.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Most Reverend Blaise Morand
Bishop of Prince Albert
Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs