Between May 2003, when BSE was first discovered in Canada, December 2004, Canadian farm cash receipts plunged $5 billion from what they would have been if BSE hadn't been discovered. That's according to a recent economic assessment by Canada's BMO Financial Group and Tim O'Neill, the organization's chief economist.

While cattle prices, which were cut in half immediately following the discovery of BSE, have regained some ground, O'Neill says they still remain well below pre-BSE levels.

“Moreover, this large increase in the number of cattle on farms suggests prices will ultimately soften further in the absence of a marked improvement in foreign market access,” O'Neill explains.

Through the first six months of this year, cash receipts are 30% below the five-year average ending in 2002.

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