David Haywood-Farmer has deep roots in British Columbia’s ranching community. Now, as the incoming president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), he’s setting his sights on helping to create a thriving future for the Canadian beef industry.
Haywood-Farmer, who was elected by acclamation at the CCA’s 2018 annual general meeting in late March, was raised on his family’s ranch near Savona, B.C. “The ranch has been in the family name since 1933 when my grandfather bought the operation,” he says, noting that in total his family has ranched in the Savona area for almost a century.
Today, the third-generation rancher operates Indian Gardens Ranch Ltd. in partnership with his cousin, Bob Haywood-Farmer and his wife, Kathleen. For both partners, the next generations are key to the daily operation of the ranch. Haywood-Farmer and his wife, Bonnie, have been married for 40 years and have three children. Their eldest son, Chris, and his family work full time on the ranch, and their other two children live nearby and return to help whenever possible. Bob’s son, Ted, and his family are also on the ranch full time.
With two ranch headquarters, the family typically grows all the feed required to support their herd, which consists of primarily Angus-Hereford influence females. “The cows spend the bulk of their time on grassland,” says Haywood-Farmer. Ranching in the Kamloops region presents its own unique challenges with regard to the landscape. “This is an extremely dry area of the province,” he adds. As the arid conditions mean that more land is required to support a herd, Haywood-Farmer utilizes what he calls environmental “tricks of the trade” learned from previous generations to ensure a sustainable landscape, and in turn the maintenance of his cow herd.
“We’re always doing things on the grasslands to make it more usable,” says Haywood-Farmer. “We’re doing a lot of water projects and developing water because…the country seems to be getting drier, so it’s always a challenge to keep good water supplies in front of our cattle so they can utilize the grasses in those areas.”
Haywood-Farmer’s enthusiasm for raising cattle is tied to the knowledge that his ranch plays a role in something much larger. Using natural resources to produce the protein society needs, he says, makes the cattle business so vital. “We need to really look after our ranches and ensure they keep doing what they do, which is growing nutrient-rich beef on lands that are too rocky or too steep or otherwise unsuitable for crops.”
To ensure this, Haywood-Farmer believes that beef producers must advocate for the industry in which they make a living. “I think it’s the responsibility of those of us involved to put our shoulder to the wheel a little bit and help make decisions that help move the industry forward. We all have to face that responsibility and help in any way we can.”
This perspective prompted him to become involved with the British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association around 30 years ago, and from 2012-14, he served as the association’s president. It was then that he also became interested in playing a role with the CCA.
In 2016, Haywood-Farmer was elected as CCA vice-president. Now, he succeeds outgoing president Dan Darling and will lead the CCA executive for up to two one-year terms. As well, he chairs the association’s foreign trade committee and sits on the domestic agriculture policy and regulations committee.
Trade is of particular importance to Haywood-Farmer, who recently visited China twice to represent the CCA in meetings to expand Canadian beef access. In late November 2017, he travelled there as part of a trade mission led by federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay. He returned to China with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trade mission at the beginning of December, when the successful results of these missions were announced.
Thanks to these efforts, China agreed to begin importing Canadian bone-in beef and to start a pilot project allowing fresh chilled Canadian beef to be imported. “Both of these were substantial, and we hope we can have more discussions later,” says Haywood-Farmer.
Following these successful trips, the CCA reported that its next steps with China are to obtain access for offal, gain full system approval of Canada’s federal meat inspection system and negotiate a free trade agreement to eliminate the current 12 per cent duty on Canadian beef.
Not surprisingly, Haywood-Farmer anticipates that trade will remain a major priority during his time as CCA president. “We always try to have a really good rapport with the federal government and make sure that the messages for beef get through to the people making decisions, especially on trade,” he says.
“We produce a lot more beef than we consume domestically, so we need to have good export avenues to move our beef.”
The future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will remain high on the agenda in the coming months as renegotiation talks continue. “It’s been a great vehicle for us for many years,” he says. “All three of the nations’ cattle producer organizations are united in a program that’s worked very well, and we’re really hoping that NAFTA’s existing provisions on the beef trade will remain in place.”
The signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), with 11 countries involved including Canada, is of particular importance, he says, especially when considering Canada’s access to Asian markets.
“What it really does is level the playing field for us with regards to tariffs for Canadian beef moving into the Japanese and Asia Pacific markets.
As well, work continues on the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that was implemented in September 2017. “We’re working on refining some technical issues to get that particular trade agreement organized so that we can take advantage of it with our Canadian beef entering that agreement,” Haywood-Farmer explains.
“Hopefully there will be a positive outcome on all of these trade initiatives that we’re talking about.”
With this focus, Haywood-Farmer is ready to help the Canadian beef industry meet the needs of a growing global population. “We are going to be one of the main suppliers of an ongoing, real need for high-quality and nutrient-dense protein… and I really hope that our consuming public realizes how important beef is to a growing population,” he explains.
To Haywood-Farmer, being at the helm of an organization that advocates on behalf of Canadian beef producers on both a domestic and international level is a humbling experience.
“It’s a real honour to be asked to do this job,” he says. “We have a great crew and staff that look after us and are dedicated to the Canadian cattlemen, and we’re moving forward… on a lot of different policy issues and fronts to meet the needs of our cattlemen.”
“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to be asked to do this job. It’s a real opportunity.”