United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) employees at the Cargill processing facility in the community are prepared to strike on Dec. 6 after they overwhelmingly rejected the company’s latest contract offer.

The National Farmers Union is among the ag groups monitoring the situation.

The organization supports the workers in their pursuit of higher wages and better working conditions.

“The NFU stands in solidarity with the UFCW workers at Cargill’s High River plant and supports their right to negotiate a fair wage and benefits in exchange for their labour,” Neil Peacock, a cattle producer from Peace River, Alta. and director with the NFU, said in a statement.

The group, however, is concerned about the looming strike deadline.

The Cargill plant in High River accounts for almost 40 per cent of Canada’s beef processing capacity.

A disruption of the beef supply chain would only create more issues, said Iain Aitken, a rancher from Belmont, Man.

“Any interruption of beef processing at the plant will cause another backlog of slaughter cattle to build up in the feedlots, plummeting cattle prices and risk of store shelves being empty,” he said.

Alberta Beef Producers is also watching the situation unfold at Cargill.

The organization has spoken with company representatives and members of the provincial government to underscore the importance of coming to a mutually beneficial agreement.

“Alberta’s beef farmers and ranchers rely on continuity in the processing sector and those workers who contribute to the success of our beef supply chain,” Melanie Wowk, chair of ABP, said in a statement. “During the height of the pandemic, we saw the impacts of a processing disruption, coupled with the drought and soaring costs of production, which continue to affect both cattle and beef markets.”