Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Canada Beef, Inc. recently announced an amendment to Canada’s Beef Cattle Research, Market Development and Promotion Levies Order that will impose an import levy on beef, beef products and beef cattle entering Canada for the first time. The levy on imported cattle will be a 1 Canadian dollar (CAD)/head, which is the same amount Canadian cattle producers pay per transaction.

Since the inception of the mandatory beef checkoff in the U.S., the Cattlemen’s Beef Board has assessed a $1/head checkoff on imported cattle, and a checkoff on beef imports equivalent to $1/head. So Canada’s new levy will essentially mirror a U.S. practice that has been in place for many years.

According to Canada Beef staff, the agency has had the authority to impose this levy on cattle and beef imports since 2002, but first wanted to ensure that an enforceable system was in place for all inter-provincial cattle transactions. Now that this threshold has been reached, a decision was made to proceed with the regulatory steps necessary to initiate the import levy. In June, regulations were published in the Canada Gazette.

A levy on beef imports may also have become a higher priority for Canada Beef because imports from the U.S. continue to make up a larger share of all beef consumed in Canada. In 2002, about 10% of the beef consumed in Canada was imported from the U.S. In 2012, imports from the U.S. accounted for 17% of Canada’s total beef consumption.

Why does this matter? Simply because it must be increasingly difficult to explain to Canadian producers why their products entering the U.S. are assessed a checkoff equivalent to $1/head, while U.S. beef and U.S. cattle entering Canada face no similar levy.