When Alberta-based Western Feedlots announced last week it intended to close after nearly 60 years feeding cattle, the provincial government and cattlemen across western Canada were stunned. Western Feedlots had capacity for 100,000-head, and much of the blame for the closure was placed on increasing government regulations and taxes.

"Our industry is under attack on all fronts," said Rick Paskal, president of Van Raay Paskal Farms Ltd, an Alberta cattle feeding operation. "We are going to see more cattle feeders go under in the next six months in Lethbridge County," he warned, "and see more cattle fed in the United States, which will mean job losses, further price reductions for ranchers and another blow to Alberta's already faltering economy."

A major factor in the demise of cattle feeding, cattlemen say, is a $3-per-head tax in Lethbridge County charged to operations of at least 150-head. "We're right now at a $5.50-to-$6 per head disadvantage feeding cattle here in Canada versus the United States,” Paskal said. “You add $3 on that, that's $8.50 to $9. ... The cattle will all go south."

$1 billion for tequila

The world’s largest tequila producer, Jose Cuervo, is seeking a $1 billion public offering on Mexico’s stock exchange. The 250-year-old company, owned by the Beckmann family, has launched a plan to transform the area surrounding Tequila, Mexcio, into a Napa Valley-like destination for tourists and tequila enthusiasts. Cuervo plans to use proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes, which may include acquisitions, according to the prospectus.

Started by Jose Antonio de Cuervo in the late 1700s before Mexican independence from Spain, Jose Cuervo claims to be North America's oldest company continually producing spirits.

First Brazilian beef arrives

The first shipment of Brazilian beef arrived in the U.S. on Tuesday, courtesy of Marfrig, a Brazilian meatpacker.

Last month the U.S. and Brazilian governments agreed to reopen two-way trade, ending a 12-year ban. Analysts say Brazil could ship nearly 90 million pounds of beef to the U.S. next year. JBS and Minerva, two leading Brazilian packers, are said to also be preparing shipments headed to the U.S. China also lifted its ban on Brazilian beef in June, prompting analysts to project Brazilian beef exports to hit a 10-year high next year. Most of the increase is expected to land in China.

Investors urge food companies to shift from meat to plants

A group of 40 investors managing $1.25 trillion in assets have launched a campaign to encourage 16 global food companies to change the way they source protein for their products to help to reduce environmental and health risks. The investors, which include the fund arm of insurer Aviva and several Swedish state pension funds, wrote to the food companies on Sept. 23 urging them to respond to the "material" risks of industrial farming and to diversify into plant-based sources of protein. Among the companies targeted were Kraft Heinz, Nestle, Unilever, Tesco and Walmart, a statement by the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return Initiative, which organized the investor group, said on Monday.