In August, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) held its 2017 semi-annual meeting in conjunction with the Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC) in Calgary. I am pleased with the continued momentum of the CBIC, which attracted a record 700+ registrants and surpassed that at the awards banquet with more than 800 guests. The CCA had guests from the U.S. and Mexican cattle producer associations in attendance and held meetings with them to discuss trade matters of mutual importance to our respective industries, just as the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) commenced in Washington, D.C.
CCA’s Dennis Laycraft departed the CCA semi-annual and CBIC mid-schedule to fly to D.C. for the start of the August 16 talks, to represent the Canadian beef industry and support the Government of Canada’s negotiations in the agriculture sector. CCA’s John Masswohl covered the negotiations in D.C. through the weekend. Advocacy is essential to supplement information Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland receives through her advisory council.
The D.C. advocacy follows an earlier meeting with Minister Freeland in Edmonton in which Laycraft, along with CCA past president Dave Solverson, representing the Alberta Beef Producers, discussed priority issues for the beef industry as part of an agricultural sector stakeholders’ roundtable ahead. The CCA seized the opportunity to outline priorities for the beef sector, the importance of continued duty-free access for the beef trade, and the importance of maintaining dispute settlement mechanisms, both within NAFTA and external dispute settlement tools at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The CCA also advised the minister of the beef industry’s acute need for a trade agreement with Japan. Not only are we falling behind Australian beef which is enjoying tariff reductions in Japan, but recently Japan increased the tariff to 50 per cent from 38.5 per cent on frozen beef imported from countries that do not have trade agreements with Japan. A similar increase applying to fresh chilled beef could follow in the next quarter. Unfortunately, these tariff increases are within Japan’s WTO rights. They send a strong message that if Canada wishes to avoid these duties we should place a high priority on resurrecting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as Japan has indicated it prefers a TPP redo over bilateral agreements.
CCA vice-president David Haywood-Farmer updated the CCA on the ongoing wildfire situation in B.C. The CCA continues to work closely with B.C. Cattlemen’s Association on this evolving situation and I have personally raised the issue of the need for assistance with Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay. At time of writing, the total land lost to fires in B.C. to date this year stood at 895,000 ha or 2.21 million acres, making this the largest fire season in recorded history. The vast majority of that land is what B.C. cattle producers depend on for grazing and raising their herds. While precise numbers of cattle or ranchers that have been affected are not known at this time, with the fires still raging, we do know more than 30,000 (probably closer to 40,000) head of cattle and likely over 300 producers have been directly impacted.
In late August, BCCA was preparing to submit an AgriRecovery application for disaster relief support to help the B.C. industry regain its footing, However, AgriRecovery does not cover income losses, and there will be a huge impact in loss of growth as well as ability for affected B.C. producers to market their animals per usual. Without significant support, many of these operations will become untenable and this uncertainty is having a huge emotional and mental toll on affected producers.
As outlined in my last column, as an initial start, the CCA is requesting the federal government provide a tax deferral for B.C. producers who chose to sell cattle, and assistance to deal with infrastructure and livestock losses and transportation of cattle and feed. The CCA will continue to advocate for affected producers through this extraordinarily difficult time.
Also during the CBIC, the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders (CYL) program attracted another group of outstanding young people this year and judging proved difficult at the 2017 selection process. CYL representative Wilco Van Meijl was appointed to the International Beef Alliance (IBA) and will be joining Young Cattlemen’s Council president, Shane Klepak, CCA’s Laycraft and myself in Ancusion, Paraguay, along with global beef industry leaders, at the next IBA meeting.
The David Francis Farm, of Lady Fane, P.E.I., is the 2017 recipient of the CCA’s Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA). The seventh-generation farm is operated by father and son team David and Brett Francis and families. A nominee of the PEI Cattle Producers, on behalf of the Maritime Beef Council, the David Francis Farm is the first farm from the Atlantic region to participate in the TESA program’s 21-year history. I encourage you to read all about their outstanding stewardship and conservation efforts, and that of all nominees, at www.cattle.ca.
The Beef Cattle Research Council named Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein, PhD, as the recipient of the 2017 Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation.
The CBIC delivered on its promise to spur industry collaboration while showcasing the best the Canadian beef industry has to offer. The CBIC will move to London, Ont,. in 2018. A big thank you to all those involved in the planning of this year’s event.
Until next time.