Since mid-May, we have seen provinces move to slowly reopen their economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the impacts of COVID-19 on the beef industry and the greater Canadian economy will not be short-term, we are optimistic that the agriculture sector can assist in Canada’s post-COVID-19 recovery.
In recent weeks, processing capacity has returned to almost full capacity, but it will take months for our industry to clear the backlog. Alberta’s set-aside program started the bid process on June 30 and producers can choose whether to participate in the program each week. The introduction of the set-aside program has already seen a change in the pricing offered by the processors. Since early May, the governments of Saskatchewan and Ontario have announced funding to help cattle producers manage the impacts of COVID-19-related market disruptions.
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) continues to work alongside our provincial organizations to communicate the importance of implementing enhancements to the current suite of business risk management programs, such as AgriStability, to provide Canadian cattle producers with effective tools to weather these unprecedented times. Currently, AgriStability does not meet the needs of beef producers due to inequitable limiting of reference margins, an outdated payment cap and the current trigger threshold.
We will continue to engage with the federal government and the provincial governments, through the provincial organizations, to ensure that all beef producers will receive the supports needed due to the extraordinary circumstances caused by the pandemic. Look for updates on our advocacy efforts and for details on the establishment of the set-aside programs in Saskatchewan and Ontario in the COVID-19 section of our website, Action News or the CCA Virtual News Roundup.
Trade continues to be an important focus for CCA. On July 1, 2020, we saw Canadians celebrate not only Canada Day, but the implementation of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) — the new North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). We look forward to seeing the continued growth of our industry through free trade.
For three decades, cattle and beef producers in Mexico, Canada and the U.S. have competed and prospered under the trade framework of NAFTA. Under the new NAFTA, Canada’s beef producers will continue to enjoy the benefits of duty-free trade and market-driven demands for beef, live cattle and genetics.
As we face the economic hardships brought on by COVID-19, the implementation of the new NAFTA is timely and welcomed as it will provide the continuation of economic stability for our rural communities, food systems and the broader North American economy. The experience of the beef cattle industries in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. under NAFTA is a testament to the value of trade agreements and their ability to assist in our post-COVID-19 recovery.
Recently, many discussions have focused on how we can build resiliency in the Canadian beef industry and best mitigate unforeseen challenges and risks to our food systems. CCA was pleased to co-host a panel discussion with Canadian Cattlemen magazine during this year’s Ag In Motion event, Western Canada’s largest virtual farm show. The panel discussed this topic with representatives throughout the value chain from producers to beef processors and food service. The conversation included diverse perspectives of the risks and opportunities facing the different sectors of our industry. However, it was also able to focus on the experiences and key learnings from COVID-19 that will shape our industry during uncertain times in the future. We hope that you were able to tune in to this session. If you missed it, check out CCA’s social media for links to the recording or watch the video below.
With Canadians more interested in learning more about agriculture and agri-food, the Public and Stakeholder Engagement (PSE) program has launched a new video series titled To Leave Something Behind. These videos are part of the larger “Feeding the Future” initiative that included two special media presentations focusing on the future of both young beef producers and our endangered native grasslands. This video series strives to bring awareness to the connection between ensuring the future success of our beef industry and the iconic Canadian landscapes that could otherwise be jeopardized.
These videos can be viewed on a new landing page off the Guardians of the Grasslands website, which will continue to build the brand and its key messages; namely, that without the next generation to carry on our farms, we risk losing the environments they protect. In addition, this video series will also be used to garner support for the Canadian Federation of Agriculture campaign in raising awareness of the impacts of COVID-19 on the beef industry.
Last, CCA is pleased to officially welcome the Canadian Beef Breeds Council (CBBC) as its newest division. This decision was reached by the leadership of both organizations following the work undertaken by an advisory committee to analyze the benefits and costs of the CBBC joining CCA. This increased alignment will result in positive impacts on the entire Canadian beef industry through increased collaboration, co-ordination, and expanded outreach efforts. Having CBBC as a division of CCA will enhance and strengthen our advocacy efforts in Ottawa, while returning more value to beef producers for their investment.