The cattle industry is known for its tight-knit community, and our ability to join forces and work together is never more apparent than during times of crises. This summer, drought has stricken farms and ranches all the way from B.C. to Ontario. While the magnitude of this disaster is concerning, its widespread scope has allowed provincial associations and cattle producers from across the country to unite in developing and advocating for practical solutions.
Together with CCA, the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association, Alberta Beef Producers, the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, Manitoba Beef Producers, and Beef Farmers of Ontario established a unified set of government asks which were presented to provincial and federal governments in July. Specifically, we advocated for AgriRecovery programming to help producers buy feed to maintain the mother cow herd, as well as enhancements to existing programs to help establish or upgrade watering systems. Additionally, we asked for timely designation of eligible regions for the Livestock Tax Deferral and an extended period for producers to be able to buy back breeding stock under that provision. Shortly afterward, the federal government announced a preliminary list of eligible regions for the Livestock Tax Deferral in late July and reassured Canadian producers that additional supports would be coming. At the time of writing, CCA continues to advocate for expansion of this list.
While we have come together as a community of beef producers, we have also joined forces with other commodity stakeholders to make our collective voice heard. Alongside the Canadian Canola Growers Association and Grain Growers of Canada, we have asked for immediate but temporary changes to crop insurance to support alternative use as feed. As ranchers at home, we can team up with neighbours to feed our cattle while giving farmers the chance to recoup some revenue from poor-yielding crops.
Most importantly, these practical solutions were driven through producer input. Your comments in phone calls, town halls and direct communication with your industry and government representatives were heard and have shaped CCA’s policy on this issue.
Although drought has touched nearly every rancher from B.C. to Ontario, some of us have been fortunate to avoid the threat of wildfires. Through all this, our industry has remained united and CCA has advocated for additional support for those producers who suffered losses due to wildfires.
In a welcome reprieve from the drought situation, we congratulated former CCA president Stan Eby on his induction into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame. Eby is known for his calm and consistent leadership, particularly during his term as CCA president at the onset of BSE and as Ontario Cattlemen’s Association president during the Walkerton water crisis. During a tough summer, his induction served as a reminder to us of the importance of steady leadership and teamwork to make it through a disaster.
While drought has been at the forefront for the past several months, there is always other business on the table for the beef industry. CCA will represent the unified front of the Canadian beef industry at the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) in September. There, we will tell the story of Canadian beef producers and our role in environmental stewardship, food security and innovation. Advocacy at this global level will position Canadian beef producers favourably in conversations about food and food production, earning us consumer support and public trust.
In preparation for the UNFSS, CCA hosted a series of independent dialogues in the spring which brought together stakeholders from throughout the supply chain to discuss the role of beef in global food systems. In addition, CCA was represented by Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau and Minister of International Development Karina Gould at the UNFSS pre-summit in early August.
As part of another alliance, CCA teamed up with other national livestock, poultry and veterinary associations to request a round-table review of current regulations restricting access to important animal health products. CCA is targeting the removal of regulatory barriers that discourage new product registrations and impose a greater cost to entering the Canadian pharmaceutical marketplace. This discussion will lead Canada into a more competitive global position.
Whether it be drought, public perception, or access to the same animal health products as international competitors, Canadian beef producers face uncertainty daily. However, history has proven that our industry is incredibly resilient. We are far stronger together than alone, and it is important, perhaps now more than ever, to know when to reach out and ask for support.
On a national level, we have also collaborated across provinces, different commodities and various livestock species to request the backing we need from our governments. As producers, the stress of all these issues, particularly under severe drought conditions, can weigh heavy on our minds. Resources like the Do More Agriculture Foundation are available to you for those times when you need support. Just like our industry, we as producers need a support network to succeed.
For more content related to drought management visit The Dry Times, where you can find a collection of stories from our family of publications as well as links to external resources to support your decisions through these difficult times.