We have certainly had a busy spring so far at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) and within our industry. But I’m not complaining. We made progress to further support the financial stability of ranchers, strengthen and grow our exports and educate youth about Canadian beef.
At the CCA annual general meeting held in March, our virtual meeting format was well received, and much was accomplished, although I must say I did miss the opportunity to see everyone in person. Hopefully, we will be able to meet face-to-face next year. I am honoured to continue to serve as CCA president, alongside Reg Schellenberg as vice-president for another year.
I am pleased to welcome our new members to the CCA board including Linda Allison (B.C.), George L’Heureux (Alta.), Kelly Smith-Fraser (Alta.) and Matthew Atkinson (Man.). I know they will be great additions to the board. And I thank our retiring directors and members for their time and contributions to the organization and Canada’s beef industry: Grant Huffman (B.C.), Jodi Flaig (Alta.), Stuart Somerville (Alta.) and Gord Adams (Man.).
The AGM set the tone for the year ahead, with productive discussion on the beef industry’s priorities, including focusing on maintaining full business continuity through the COVID-19 pandemic, making changes to business risk management programs, ensuring beef is seen as a nutritious, sustainable and safe protein choice, changing the conversation about cattle from an environmental perspective and enhancing international trade market access.
CCA was pleased the federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) ministers agreed in March to remove the reference margin limit (RML) within the AgriStability program, an enhancement CCA has long been advocating for. The proposal tabled by Minister Bibeau included the removal of the RML and an increase to the compensation rate from 70 per cent to 80 per cent. We were disappointed governments could not yet agree to the compensation rate. However, we are pleased with the changes that will stand to benefit beef producers across the country. Removing the RML will go a long way in making AgriStability more predictable and equitable for our industry. We are asking FPT ministers to continue productive discussions on further changes to agriculture risk management programs in Canada — making the Livestock Price Insurance Program national and permanent.
The environment is another key area this coming year. We know that the positive environmental contributions of cattle production and the Canadian beef industry are not as well understood. That’s why we are continuing to raise the profile of Canada’s beef sector within the Government of Canada and at the Cabinet table to make sure our industry is understood as an economic engine for our country while also being an environmentally positive industry.
The remaining four of the seven 2030 beef industry goals are being announced this spring. They will focus on water, beef quality and food safety, people’s health and safety, and technology. Stay tuned as I will take a deeper dive into the beef goals and what that means for producers in future columns.
Looking to our biggest ally south of the border, CCA is continuing engagement with U.S. policy-makers and our allies in Washington to head off efforts to bring back mandatory country-of-origin labelling (mCOOL). Further abroad, CCA is working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to increase Canada’s ability to export more beef to the European Union, a market that has seen steady but non-optimized export growth since the implementation of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). We are also striving for further export opportunities by supporting the expansion of membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Earlier this spring the federal government announced Canada is ratifying the Canada-United Kingdom (U.K.) Trade Continuity Agreement (TCA). CCA is strongly advocating for a swift return to the negotiating table to establish an ambitious free trade agreement that addresses the current trade-limiting factors being carried over from the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) to the Canada-U.K. TCA and the future trade agreement with the U.K.
At the time of writing, we await the World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE) ruling expected in May for the anticipated approval of Canada’s BSE negligible-risk status. We continue to seek changes to eliminate remaining BSE impediments to trade.
I am also delighted to announce the Canadian Cattlemen’s Foundation (CCF) entered into a partnership with Agriculture in the Classroom Canada (AITC-C), and its 10 provincial member organizations. As a Foundational and Educational Partner, CCF will collaborate with AICT-C to develop agriculture education resources including a teacher guide for Guardians of the Grasslands, a documentary that explores the current state of one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems, the Great Plains grasslands, and the role cattle play in its survival.
Supporting Agriculture in the Classroom Canada in this capacity is a proud milestone for the CCF. The $50,000 contribution to AITC-C is the first of its kind since the inception of CCF in 2014. Strengthening the youth connection to the Canadian beef industry and sustainable food production is a key focus for the foundation and the CCA is excited to partner with AITC-C as our first major grant initiative. I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the CCF for making this possible.
With CCA’s support, AITC-C will create new curriculum-linked educational resources for classrooms based on accurate, balanced and current information about environmental sustainability and nutrition related to the beef industry.
I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2021 has in store. Be sure to check out the news section of the CCA website, cattle.ca, for CCA’s latest news releases and industry statements.