The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) enjoyed a hectic and successful annual general meeting in Ottawa March 8-10. I am always impressed by the quality and breadth of work produced by CCA staff, work which is, of course, central to the discussions that occur at the committee meeting level, and followed by the debates at the board of directors table for direction setting. The thoroughness of this work, along with the professionalism displayed as it is being communicated to members, is good reason for guests and observers in attendance to have confidence in what CCA is achieving on behalf of Canada’s beef producers. I certainly have a high degree of confidence in the direction the association is moving and the ongoing work in support of that, and I am looking forward to serving a second, one-year term along with vice-president David Haywood-Farmer.
Building positive relationships with key influencers is a core element of CCA’s work. It was evident at the CCA’s annual MP reception that we continue to excel in this regard. The reception was a huge success, attracting one of the largest crowds at our events ever. I would like to thank our sponsors the Canadian Meat Council, Beer Canada and Spirits Canada for helping to ensure once again a successful event with the winning combination of Canadian beef, beer and whisky. Our appreciation also goes out to MP Mike Bossio, who delivered remarks on behalf of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay at the reception.
The pursuit of trade opportunities, particularly in the wake of the U.S. national election, was a key topic at the AGM. The CCA is concerned that the growing anti-trade rhetoric is extremely dangerous to the long-term viability of market-based trade and global economic growth. A fundamental goal of the CCA is to support policies that call for the removal of unnecessary barriers to trade.
For many years, the CCA has built relationships with its international counterparts and governments to advocate for the elimination of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), signed by 12 countries in February 2016, represented a new era of multi-lateral trade that could bring together consumers and producers from a diverse section of Pacific-Rim cultures and nations by establishing a stronger relationship based on sound science and market demand. Most importantly, TPP set a new and high-level precedent for market access for the trade in beef and will serve as an example for other countries to follow.
The CCA travelled to Chile, where trade ministers were meeting March 14-15 to discuss continuing efforts that will lead to implementation of the benefits of the TPP agreement, to emphasize the importance of the TPP and international market access to the livelihood of Canadian beef producers.
On March 14, International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne stated in a speech that Canada was going into the meeting organized by the Government of Chile with an open mind and a constructive attitude.
During the meeting the ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the founding principles of the TPP and shared opinions and views about how best to carry the vision forward. Minister Champagne later stated that: “What is paramount for me as international trade minister is to make sure that Canadian producers, consumers and workers have preferential market access to the very important economies in Asia Pacific.”
CCA’s ability to progress difficult and complicated files and achieve positive results is well known. The latest example occurred in late February when the Government of Canada published amendments in Canada Gazette II permitting irradiation of raw fresh and frozen ground beef. The move gives Canadian consumers the same choice as U.S. consumers, who have been able to purchase irradiated ground beef for more than a decade. The availability of irradiated ground beef in Canada will take time to establish and will depend on consumer demand for this type of product. Nonetheless the approval marks the successful conclusion of an approval process initiated by the CCA nearly 20 years ago.
Strategic partnerships that support the beef industry come in many forms. In March, I was pleased to see McDonald’s Canada become a Foundation Partner of CCA’s youth mentorship program, the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Program (CYL). McDonald’s joins founding partners Cargill, UFA and MNP in ensuring that the CYL program continues to develop young members of the beef industry. McDonald’s has been a positive force in the Canadian beef industry through its initiatives involved in the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and the Verified Sustainable Beef Pilot Project. McDonald’s also sources 100 per cent of its beef from Canadian ranchers.
On March 8, McDonald’s released an International Women’s Day initiative on social media, and pledged $1 for every share of the video that day, up to $10,000, to youth initiatives in the Canadian agriculture industry. The goal was more than achieved, and we thank McDonald’s for their support.
Finally, we have reached out to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and state organizations letting them know that our thoughts and prayers are with the farm families impacted by the devastating wildfires in the states of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. We encourage our membership to help out with the relief efforts underway in the impacted states in whatever way they can.