This is my final opportunity to speak to Canadian producers through this column as president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA). I hope the conversation and points in my column over the past two years have helped to keep you informed and up-to-date on the important industry issues we have faced and the work that CCA has done on our behalf.
As I reflect on my time as CCA president, many accomplishments and successes come to mind that have and will continue to benefit the Canadian beef industry. We have come a long way, but there is still much work to be done.
We have continued to focus our advocacy efforts on trade and market access priorities as well as important domestic issues such as humane transport of livestock, the environment, and food and health, to name a few.
Our trade priorities are still maintaining and growing Canadian beef exports. Implementing new trade agreements over the last number of years has given Canadian beef producers access to new markets and opportunities.
Demand for Canadian beef in Asia has grown since implementing the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and we expect it to hold the largest potential over the next 25 years. Thanks to CPTPP, we have experienced significant growth of Canadian beef exports to Japan, with a 65 per cent increase in 2019 over 2018. Japan is now the second-largest market for Canadian beef after the U.S. CCA was also successful in our efforts to achieve “over 30 months” (OTM) access for Japan, which has also helped us increase our exports into this market.
Another key trade priority for us has been the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), with 70 per cent of Canada’s beef exports still bound for the U.S. We continue to encourage the swift ratification of the new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) by the Government of Canada, highlighting the benefits of reciprocal trade between our countries, as Canada remains the only NAFTA country to yet pass the bill through our House and Senate.
Efforts to bring the mandatory country-of-origin labelling (mCOOL) back in the U.S. through NAFTA, which cost us close to $1 billion between 2008 and 2015, were not successful through CUSMA. Despite the progress we have made on mCOOL, we continue to monitor the discussion which is brought forth by a minority voice from time to time.
Another initiative that I’m proud of is the CCA-sponsored MNP study on Finance Canada’s proposed taxation changes for private corporations in 2017 and the significant impact it could have had on incorporated farms and ranches across Canada. CCA was actively involved in the consultation process and identified unintended consequences that would have increased costs to transfer the operation within the family. In the end, Finance Canada stepped back or amended many of its proposed taxation changes. CCA remains active in working with the government on tax policy that will benefit cattle producers in the future.
The new Humane Transport Regulations for Livestock including beef cattle came into force in late February 2020, with a two-year transition period on the enforcement of feed, water and rest interval provisions for the cattle sector. This transition period will allow time for education, awareness building and the development of rest stop infrastructure. CCA will work with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to find effective solutions to identified issues and help implement any adjustments for the beef sector.
We also made progress on the environment file, with CCA actively engaging with senators, parliamentarians and government officials on concerns relating to the “Deeming Habitat” provision of Bill C-68, the “Fisheries Act.” Through our efforts, an appropriate scope of protected fish habitat in the Fisheries Act was attained as well as a mechanism that will support stewardship and avoid costly permit requirements through standard practice guidelines, which will be developed.
I am extremely proud of the work we have done during my term to help support the competitiveness of our industry in the years to come. A special thanks to the hard-working staff, executive and directors at CCA. Your efforts and passion for our industry are greatly appreciated! Working alongside you throughout my term at CCA has been a very fulfilling experience.
The great work done by CCA is a benefit to all cattle producers of our nation, whether it’s keeping an eye on policy and regulations in government, maintaining an open dialogue with our neighbours south of the border or opening doors for trade around the world.
A big thank you to my family at home, who have kept things running smoothly on the ranch while I have been away on CCA business. This experience would not have been possible without you.
I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference in Penticton, B.C., this summer, August 11 to 13, 2020.
Again, it has been an honour to have held the position of CCA president for the past two years. Thank you for the opportunity to represent you and it is now time to pass the baton on to the next president!