As the leaves begin to turn and cattle return from summer pasture, I find myself reflecting on the productive summer we have had at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA). The highlight was the fourth annual Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC) that welcomed over 640 registrants from across Canada and around the globe to Calgary. The 2019 CBIC was a joint collaboration between the Beef Cattle Research Council, Canada Beef, Canadian Beef Breeds Council, National Cattle Feeders’ Association and CCA.
This year’s theme, Securing Our Future, was prevalent through the many presentations and discussions held over the three-day event, including a knowledge-packed program highlighted by keynote speakers Timothy Caulfield and Karl Subban. There were discussions on technology with Dr. Eric Behlke, an emerging leaders panel, an international trade session, and the always popular “Bov-Innovation” series of educational presentations and interactive workshops. The conference also included an afternoon with cattle handling and presentations on technology, data, equipment and more.
CBIC also hosts the CCA’s semi-annual meeting lineup, where committees meet to discuss policy and direction. This year marked the first in-person meeting of the newly created food policy committee. In the wake of issues such as Canada’s Food Guide, label claims, and alternative proteins, CCA leadership deemed it necessary to form a new committee to drive industry’s approach to these growing concerns. To lead this initiative, CCA hired Jennifer Babcock in the Ottawa office in July to serve as CCA’s policy manager. Babcock brings a wealth of experience in government relations and policy and we are confident that this file is in good hands. The committee will advocate to the Government of Canada on behalf of cattle producers to ensure food-related policies are science-based and not misleading.
This past May, CCA shared its perspective on the labelling and marketing of meat, plant-based proteins and lab-grown proteins at Health Canada’s 2019 Food and Nutrition Stakeholder Engagement Session and the Beef and Pork Value Chain Roundtables Joint Session in Ottawa. The CCA’s view is that for a product to be labelled or marketed as meat it must meet the legal definition of “meat” or “meat byproduct” as defined in the Food and Drug Regulation. Subsequently, the Quebec Beef Producers submitted a complaint to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) about the labelling of an alternative plant-based protein product marketing itself as meat. The CCA is working with its U.S. counterpart, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and international bodies such as the International Meat Secretariat, International Beef Alliance, and Codex Alimentarius Commission, on the need for a consistent approach to, and predictable rules for, the labelling of meat products.
Another active government relations initiative for CCA has been Bill C-68, the Fisheries Act. The amended act received royal assent on June 21, 2019, and contained several Senate amendments, including the repeal of the “deeming habitat” provision, or subsection 2(2). CCA is pleased with these final amendments and has been asked to provide regulatory development input by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on a routine works regulation. This will essentially define routine agricultural structures and activities for exemption, as well as related codes of practice and standards. This process will take at least several months.
On the animal health side, CCA is part of a CFIA-led BSE negligible risk application industry/government working group tasked with preparing Canada’s application to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) for negligible risk status. The application must be submitted by May 2020 for acceptance in July 2020. The OIE will then proceed with an in-depth review of Canada’s submission and will provide a final decision in March 2021. This is important because moving Canada to a negligible risk status is a critical first step in adjusting requirements for specified risk material to better align with that of the U.S. Achieving negligible risk status will also enhance competitiveness for Eastern Canada’s fed cattle marketing.
Heading into fall, we will be watching daily for movement on the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). The agreement, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement, was signed by the three leaders at the end of November 2018, beginning the ratification steps required to implement it. In June 2019, Mexico became the first of the three nations to ratify, leaving ratification to Canada and the U.S. On May 29, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tabled Bill C-100, “An Act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America, and the United Mexican States,” which is the legislation needed to implement CUSMA. Second reading took place on June 20 and the bill was referred to the Standing Committee on International Trade.
As fall run begins, we will also be monitoring the Canadian and American markets through the team at Canfax.
Finally, I would like to wish all of our Canadian producers from coast to coast a safe and prosperous 2019 harvest.
Until next time.