2011 Summer - food, fuel and climate change mitigation- can agriculture do it all

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FPJ0804 - Mussell, A, Feed grains and livestock in Canada, a reconciliation

Mussell, A, Feed grains and livestock in Canada: a reconciliation, Farm Policy Journal, Vol8 N4, Summer 2011, pp 27-38

The use of ethanol made from corn and feed grains continues to be a current public policy issue, subject to a rather polarised debate. It is especially of interest to a meat exporting country such as Canada. It is with this understanding that the George Morris Centre has focused on Canada’s interest in ethanol policy (Mussell et al. 2008, 2009). The observation has been that Canada’s ethanol policy is framed by its role as a livestock and meat exporter. As a result, competition for feeder livestock (and thus competitiveness in livestock and meat production) stands to be seriously impeded by ethanol development in Canada. The situation in Ontario has been the focus since it allows clear reference to corn, ethanol, and livestock feeding, but the insight applies to western Canada where the feed grain situation is more complex but export competitiveness even more critical. Debate on the impact of ethanol development in Canada has often occurred without the benefit of a unifying analytical framework that helps understand the impacts and implied adjustments. Moreover, the last few years have seen significant fluctuations in grain and livestock markets in Canada, and the economic landscape has shifted. With that in mind, how should the mechanism of causation and the empirical evidence related to ethanol, livestock, and meat be understood? The purpose of this article is to develop the key economic fundamentals that govern the development of feed grain and livestock industries in Canada. The implications of these fundamentals are then interpreted in the context of recent developments in Canadian feed grains and livestock.

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