Fall is certainly off to a hectic start, with numerous trade and policy matters on the table. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) annual fall picnic took place on September 26 in Ottawa, following the third round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) trade talks. The CCA was among two dozen agriculture groups providing input during the meetings. In addition to maintaining NAFTA’s terms of trade for beef, the CCA seeks to improve the flow of trade for beef and cattle through greater regulatory alignment. We will have representatives on site at every negotiation round to provide expert advice where needed.
The Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) came into effect on September 21, 2017. European beef is now duty free in the Canadian market and new duty-free quotas will be available for Canadian beef entering the EU market.
The provisional implementation of CETA is an achievement on the tariff side, creating new duty-free access on nearly 65,000 tonnes of Canadian beef. Longstanding technical barriers remain, however, and the CCA continues to work with the Government of Canada and the Canadian Meat Council to achieve meaningful Canadian beef access to the EU. The CCA anticipates a timeline of approximately two years to complete the efficacy research in Canada and achieve formal recognition by the EU of Canada’s meat safety protocols. The CCA remains confident that through working together and with a commitment of resources and transitional assistance from government, we can get the job done.
Once these issues are resolved, the EU market has potential to become a $600 million annual customer for Canadian beef, compared with $6 to $10 million in annual beef exports to the EU.
- Read more: EU, Canada settle cattle battle at the WTO
Cattle to be used for EU beef exports must be enrolled in the Canadian Program for Certifying Freedom from Growth Enhancing Products which is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) supervised program for the EU. Interested producers should be taking steps now to have EU-eligible cattle when packers are looking for them, which we estimate to be in about two years’ time.
The CCA has prepared videos to help cow-calf producers and cattle feeders better understand the requirements of producing EU-eligible cattle. Producers are encouraged to watch the CCA videos and then contact CFIA or a CFIA-approved veterinarian from industry that can work with producers to enroll them in the program. The videos are on the CCA website at www.cattle.ca/eu along with a list of CFIA-approved veterinarians. Additional information will be added to the site including examples of the required records.
Also in September, I appeared before the Standing Committee on Agriculture to discuss the Food Policy for Canada. The CCA has been actively engaged in the Food Policy consultations to ensure the interests of the beef industry are represented in the policy-making process.
Our recommendations include ensuring farmers and ranchers play a meaningful role in developing this policy. We ask that the governance structure or council that provides guidance to FPT governments developing the policy have strong representation from agriculture producers.
Additionally, Canada’s Food Policy must be science-based and utilize the best available data and research. It must also recognize that innovation and technology help our industry, and other commodities, remain efficient in using resources, while keeping costs of production down, which in turn allows for food to be affordable to the consumer. The food policy must acknowledge the beneficial role of cattle in terms of conserving soil, improving grassland health, and ensuring the preservation of important rangelands. Keeping grasslands that are utilized by cattle intact also provides public goods such as carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, increased biodiversity and improved water quality.
Recognizing that raising cattle and supplying beef to consumers can play an important role in achieving the policy goals will be essential in a Food Policy that we can support. We are confident that if designed and implemented properly, this initiative has the potential to bring the public and farmers and ranchers together to find shared values in Canada’s food and agriculture systems to enhance public trust.
Finally, the CCA thanks the Government of Canada for providing $4.4 million in funding for industry projects geared towards increasing innovation and managing business risk in the beef cattle sector. The CCA received $839,500 for a Growing Forward 2 AgriRisk Initiatives project to explore remote sensing as a tool to insure pasture production. The project began in 2015 and will run until March 2018. The primary focus of this research project is to define an “X to Y” relationship between satellite-based remotely sensed data and actual pasture production (by weight) with sufficient robustness and accuracy to form the basis for a pasture insurance program that is identical in concept to that available for annual crops.
If successful, there is hope that this study will further contribute to the creation of risk management tools that can protect ranchers against the extra costs of buying feed or transporting cattle to a better area during an area-wide production shortage.
A long-standing policy of CCA’s is to improve forage and pasture insurance programs across Canada. The CCA is hopeful that this research can move forward under the Canadian Agriculture Partnership and be expanded nationally, covering all types of forage and pasture production across the country.
Until next time.