The Canadian government has created a new stricter definition for specified risk materials (SRMs) in an effort to get their trading partners to reopen their borders. However, the industry must deal with the stark reality that the borders may remain closed for several more months as the international committee works through the politics of the situation.

In fact, the province of Alberta has begun to openly talk about the possibility of a cow liquidation program where as much as 30% of their cows -- just shy of 750,000 head -- would be removed from production if the export markets aren't regained by October. The proposed plan would take up to two years to implement, but it illustrates the Canadian industry's dire straits.

The impact of the export ban is magnified by the fact that Canada exports nearly 60% of its production. Of course, this proposal also serves a political aspect of highlighting the desperation. Officials indicated that if even one country opened their borders, the planned depopulation plan would not be carried out.

The new SRM definition is not meeting with universal acceptance in the industry, as once again there is concern that regulations are extending beyond what the science would indicate. It's increasingly obvious that the beef industry must not only deal with the science of protecting the consumer but also the politics associated with it.