Several important developments occurred in November that hold promise for Canada’s beef producers as 2017 begins to wind down and business plans for next year start to take shape. These include progress in securing the groundwork for improved market access in the Asia Pacific region, and continual improvements to practices that producers already recognize as essential to sustainable and humane cattle production. The winds of change are constantly upon us, and producers can continue to count on the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) to represent their interests in these important matters going forward.
I would like to take a moment to thank Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay for the tax relief measures he announced in November for cattle producers affected by bovine tuberculosis (bTB) and drought, flood or excess moisture conditions. These measures will help producers affected by the bTB investigation that began in September 2016 to make more optimal herd repopulation decisions, and help eligible producers forced to sell part of their breeding herd due to extreme weather to defer a portion of sale proceeds to the following year to partially offset the cost of reacquiring breeding stock. The CCA also commends the Government of Canada for revisiting the changes outlined in the Tax Planning Using Private Corporations proposal. The amendments to the proposed tax plan are a step in right direction.
On the trade front, the CCA is encouraged by the significant progress made at the Ministerial meeting of the 11 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries in Da Nang, Vietnam, towards achieving a so-called “TPP11 agreement.” Talks will continue under a new agreement, called the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This is potentially good news for beef producers, as it appears the market access elements of the original TPP12 agreement will remain intact; however, we do know that nothing is guaranteed until the negotiations are complete, and the agreement is signed. The CCA will follow up with officials and politicians to ensure the remaining work and negotiations to bring this new agreement into effect are undertaken as expeditiously as possible.
Many thanks to International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne for his strong efforts on behalf of Canadian beef producers at the TPP11 negotiating table. We encourage Canada to be a constructive partner as the negotiations continue.
An agreement in the TPP11 region will ensure Canada’s beef producers can improve access to Japan and other growing markets in Asia. With an agreement, there is potential to double or triple our annual beef exports to Japan to more than $300 million.
There is an opportunity to exempt Canadian beef from tariffs in Japan as high as 38.5 per cent to 50 per cent and restore Canada’s competitive position with Australian beef. Other potential wins for Canadian beef producers in an agreement include achieving elimination of beef tariffs in Vietnam and Malaysia, potentially important markets in the future. It is a major priority for Canadian beef producers to achieve a level playing field for all beef competitors in the TPP11 region.
Canada’s beef industry has an enviable track record of prudent and judicious use of veterinary antimicrobials. However, action is being taken around the world on reducing the risk of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). AMR is a global issue that has an impact on the ability of medicines to treat infections and disease in both animals and humans. Canada has its own pan-Canadian framework to address AMR including some changes to how livestock producers can access antimicrobials. These changes ensure that the antimicrobial products we have now continue to be effective into the future, and it will require producers to consider the impact on their business operations and plan accordingly.
Of note to Canadian beef producers is a change to the own use importation (OUI) process that came into effect on November 13, 2017. Only those products registered on “List B,” published on the Health Canada website are now permitted for OUI.
Additional changes coming will see claims for growth promotion dropped from labels of medically important antimicrobials used in livestock production, and access to all Category I, II, and III antimicrobials restricted to prescription only effective December 1, 2018. This will mean all livestock producers will require a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship to obtain the necessary prescription to access these antimicrobials.
The responsible use of antibiotics is a necessary component of sustainable beef production, which requires that cattle are well cared for and treated when necessary. The CCA recognizes that all stakeholders in Canada’s human and animal health systems must play a role in minimizing AMR development. These include doctors, hospitals, and patients on the human side; veterinarians, producers and animal caregivers on the livestock side. Our mutual goal is to ensure that the medicines we currently have, and new ones in the future, will be effective when used properly.
As 2017 draws to a close, herd expansion remains stalled given the surprising strength for fed prices this spring and calf prices this fall. International demand remains strong in the face of larger protein supplies supporting red meat prices. Moving forward, continued strong export demand will be critical to maintaining North American cattle prices and encouraging expansion of the Canadian herd.
Here’s wishing you a safe, restful and joyous holiday season with your loved ones, and a happy new year.