Across Canada there are 12.2 million cattle and calves on 82,665 farms and ranches. Beef cattle production is found in all provinces with the largest production in Alberta. Together, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario represent 81% of beef cattle production. In 2013 farm cash receipts totaled $6.8 billion. Processing takes place primarily in Alberta (72%) and Ontario (20%).

Canada exports both live beef cattle and meat products. In 2014 Canada exported $4 billion. About half of these exports are in the form of live cattle which are primarily shipped to the United States. The remainder of Canada’s exports is in the form of meat products which are shipped to the U.S. and around the world.

In 2014, Canada’s beef industry exported $1.9 billion (317,000 tonnes) in meat products. The Canadian beef industry ships to 70 countries but is reliant on the U.S. for 70% of all meat exports. The next largest meat export markets are Hong Kong (10%), Mexico (8%), and Japan (5%). All other markets together represent the remaining 7% of Canadian beef exports.

Canadian beef exports were impacted heavily by the 2003 discovery of BSE in Canada.  Since then, Canada has recaptured much of its market access. Although some markets are not yet fully-reopened, the beef sector’s trade priorities have shifted in recent years from predominantly seeking restoration of access post-BSE to addressing new challenges of a strong Canadian dollar, technical trade barriers such as Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) in the U.S. and new ractopamine prohibitions in China and Russia. The net result is that Canada’s 2012 beef and live cattle exports were almost 20% lower than they were in 2002. Creation of new access through the negotiation of free trade agreements with markets such as Europe, Korea and Japan is a priority for the Canadian beef sector.

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