The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association says it will begin laying the groundwork to attract investors in a provincial beef packing plant.

This following the release of a recent study commissioned by the SSGA and the Ministry of Agriculture focusing on the  "Opportunities and Challenges for Growing Saskatchewan's Beef Processing Sector". 

SSGA President Garner Deobald says COVID showed us where the present value chain is weak.

"Bottlenecks at the two big Alberta plants distorted the supply-and-demand dynamic, and it’s the cow-calf producers who suffered the most."

Saskatchewan produces 30 per cent of Canada’s beef cattle, but has no federally-inspected packing facilities here, meaning that any potential value in the chain is moving out of the province.

Deobald points out the report done by Willie Van Solkema and Kevin Grier who have experience in the meat packing industry, concluded that while setting up a packing plant comes with its challenges Saskatchewan could sustain a 500 to 1000 head per day facility.

"We easily could support that and would give us the packing ability here in the province to really add some value to what we do produce here."

The province’s current beef cow herd is approximately 1.1 million head, with roughly the same number of calves born each year.  

According to the report a quarter million head are exported either to other provinces or United States for slaughter every year, and more than a million leave the province as feeder cattle.

He says we definitely have the volume of cattle that we need to have here. 

"The cow calf sector is very strong here in the province, and also the feeding industry. I think on the feeding industry side of it, there definitely is room to grow more of that here. Especially, if we're talking about increasing irrigation acres, then there is room to expand the feeding side of it as well."

In the coming months, SSGA will work with government and industry stakeholders to highlight business incentives, identify the best locations to build a new plant, explore ideas for optimizing processing efficiencies, and then present the information to potential investors.

You can review the study by clicking on the link here  "Opportunities and Challenges for Growing Saskatchewan's Beef Processing Sector".