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Cattle producers cry unfair to Ottawa

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Piles of red tape have been removed to allow Manitoba beef farmers “in-transit” access between Warroad and Baudette so they can re-export their cattle to the States through Rainy River’s designated port of entry while both ones in Manitoba are closed for repairs.

What has local beef farmers so steamed is that the ones from Manitoba were granted “in-transit” access so quickly and easily while they face lots of red tape trying to ship their cattle through the States to Winnipeg on the exact same route.

Linda Armstrong, co-manager of the Rainy River port of entry, said all a Manitoba beef farmer would have to do is slap a seal on their cattle truck before driving through the States and not break it until they get back into Canada.

Once here, they can then re-export the cattle into the States through Rainy River (Warroad is not a designated port of entry for livestock).

But for local farmers to ship their cattle to Winnipeg via Baudette and Warroad, they have to pay a hefty bond and some user fees, and go through scads of paperwork. Plus they can only ship on the days when the U.S. vet is there to examine their cattle.

In short, it’s a big double-standard, said Armstrong.

“They’re doing what we want to do but they’re doing it with exports," she said. "We just want an ‘in-transit’ to Manitoba.”

Armstrong noted the Manitoba farmers are still paying a bond to ship their cattle into the States, which local farmers shipping there also have to pay.

Tom Morrish of Devlin has been lobbying the federal government to do something about developing an “in-transit” policy for district livestock since the railroad got out of shipping cattle in the early 1970s.

For the past six years, Morrish has been talking with local MP Bob Nault’s office on the issue. He said he was a bit miffed when he heard how easily the doors were opened for Manitoba farmers to move cattle through the States.

“What Nault has been working on the last six years is if we can seal the trailer, pay probably a $5 road tax fee [to the U.S.], and take your cattle on through,” he noted.

“They’re slowly, slowly trying to get this to happen," he added. ”Now all of a sudden, while this problem is being fixed [in Manitoba], they said, ‘We’ll just seal the trailer and go to Rainy River.’

“It’s like punching against a pillow—you never hit anything firm but you can’t get anywhere, either,” Morrish said.

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