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CCA Report: The last word

From the March 2018 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

Dan Darling is president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.

I am pleased to provide you with this final report as president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA). It has been an honour and a privilege to represent the interests of Canada’s beef producers for the last four years as president and vice-president of the CCA.

Canada’s participation in the new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), also known as TPP11, is an extremely positive development for Canada’s entire beef sector. Furthermore, Canada’s agriculture and agri-food products sector will benefit from preferential market access to all CPTPP countries and gain new market access opportunities. The CPTPP is on track to become the biggest trade agreement in the world, representing 495 million people and 13.5 per cent of global GDP.

Once the CPTPP is implemented, Canadian beef will immediately be imported into Japan at the same preferential tariff as Australian beef. Canadian beef will also be relieved from the current Japanese 50 per cent safeguard tariff on frozen product that has been in place since July 2017. This, along with the new market access in the Asia Pacific region, is of utmost importance to the hard-working families who operate Canada’s 60,000 beef farms and feedlots.

The CCA urges the Government of Canada to expedite the CPTPP implementation bill through Parliament before the end of Canada’s spring legislative session, given the strong likelihood that at least six and possibly more member countries (Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Mexico) could ratify and implement before the end of April.

Implementing this bill quickly in Canada will ensure Canada’s beef producers will not be left waiting at the gate while our beef exporting competitors in New Zealand and Mexico join Australia in getting a jump on us in the Japanese market. Market share for Canadian beef in this important market would erode if Parliament is slow to ratify and existing Japanese customers of Canadian beef are forced to look to our competitors.

The sixth round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) trade talks concluded in Montreal on January 29, with each country’s government officials reporting sufficient progress being made to warrant a seventh round of talks in Mexico City at the end of February.

The CCA was on hand in Montreal as a stakeholder to provide expert advice to negotiators. The CCA has been present at all rounds thus far and observed a very positive impact by the broad participation by U.S. stakeholder representatives for the first time. NAFTA will only be maintained if the White House fully acknowledges its value to the U.S. economy and as a driver of U.S. jobs. Now that U.S. stakeholders are more actively advocating for the maintenance of NAFTA, the chances of successfully modernizing and renegotiating the agreement are much improved.

During the negotiations, the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA) hosted several events with American and Mexican counterparts including a roundtable with government representatives and a news conference with farmers from all three countries. I was pleased to be among the farmers in attendance and spoke about the integrated nature of the North American cattle industry and the importance of NAFTA for my beef operation.

These efforts, along with progressing market access expansion in China and ongoing work with the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), will help to manage the possible risk of U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA.

In closing, I am extremely proud of the achievements and progress achieved during my term that support the long-term competitiveness of the industry.

Public trust initiatives including the launch of the Canadian Beef Industry Conference, the National Beef Strategy and the industry issues management position will provide a solid, science-based foundation for the Canadian beef industry to thrive on. The CCA’s written submissions defining the potential harm to industry on regulatory change proposals including Canada’s Food Guide and the Food Labelling Modernization Initiative, deserve recognition, as do the ongoing efforts in sustainable beef production, climate change and verification frameworks. Approval to permit irradiation of raw fresh and frozen ground beef was finally granted after nearly two decades of effort.

The CCA addressed areas of vital importance to the viability of beef production itself, securing revisions to harmful provisions within Ottawa’s proposed Tax Planning Using Private Corporations changes. Advocacy efforts resulted in tax relief measures for producers affected by bovine tuberculosis; drought, flood or excess moisture conditions; and tax relief and other disaster relief measures for producers impacted by the B.C. wildfires. We progressed files on traceability and labour shortages and, with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency secured the elimination of an outdated requirement to prove that live cattle exported to the U.S. are born after March 1, 1999.

The Cattlemen’s Young Leaders program marked its fifth year in 2017, its success demonstrated by the many graduates who have gone on to be involved with their provincial associations and in industry.

Going forward, there remain issues to address, including the impact of Canada’s carbon price policy on the Canadian beef sector.

I am confident that the CCA will continue to well represent the Canadian beef industry to ensure it remains viable and competitive for the long term.

Dan Darling, CCA President

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