Calving is always a time for optimism and this year the outlook is especially good with strong beef demand and prices at record highs. Producers who toughed it out and survived the last decade are finally seeing the prices and market conditions that make it all worthwhile. The current price environment comes as a result of the global shortage of beef which is supporting the record prices. Producers in Western Canada can and should make the most of the price scenario through the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program (WLPIP). Through the insurance available, producers can put a floor price on calves that is higher than ever before. The market scenario is impacting heifer retention numbers and will continue for the foreseeable future. Going forward the supply picture will likely remain tight for the next four to five years.
Calving is a busy time and it’s at times like these that I am thankful for my family and friends for going the extra mile to help out at home. It is also a natural time to think about the future and more to the point, the direction the industry is headed. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) has been working with stakeholders to develop a national strategy for industry. A comprehensive draft strategy has been developed to date, which aims to achieve targeted industry goals that are aligned with the industry’s vision and mission under four key pillars. This highly collaborative process is still in its early stages and the plan will continue to be refined to strategically address the larger issues identified by industry going forward. I am excited about this process and look forward to seeing the project through. The project is in very capable hands of staff at the CCA, and I’d like to thank them for the tremendous amount of work that has gone into this effort to date.
The work CCA does is diverse and reflects a range of issues that are important from an industry sustainability perspective. The trade file continues to be active. On the country-of-origin labelling (COOL) litigation front, in April the CCA and its coalition partners filed a supplemental brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit regarding its request for a preliminary injunction to block the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) May 2013 mandatory COOL rule. This information was part of the rehearing of the case on May 19 by the full court. This change of events happened on April 4 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the March 28 ruling that had left in place a lower court’s denial of the preliminary injunction sought by the coalition.
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The requested preliminary injunction would block implementation of the USDA’s May 2013 final rule on mandatory COOL. The CCA is encouraged that the full court will rehear the case on May 19 and review the case law at the centre of the dispute. In our view the April 4 development is particularly significant as the rehearing was initiated by the Appellate Court itself. The CCA will participate fully in the en banc process.
The development is another step in the ongoing battle over COOL. The cost of COOL to Canadian producers and industry is unacceptable and CCA will continue until a viable remedy is reached.
CCA officials accompanied Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz on a week-long trade mission to Korea and Japan in early April. The CCA fully supports the implementation of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement so the current 40 per cent tariff can be phased out. In Japan, the CCA’s objective is that Canada negotiate the elimination of both the 38.5 per cent tariff and the safeguard trigger (tariff increases to 50 per cent if imports increase beyond a set formula) in either the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or in a bilateral agreement between Canada and Japan.
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Efforts on the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) continue, with CCA staff in Australia for the most recent meetings that include agreeing on a definition of sustainable beef production. The CRSB draft principles and criteria for global sustainable beef production, processing and retail are open for public comment until May 16. The CCA will continue its efforts in this area. Also on the sustainability front, progress continues on the Canadian Cattlemen’s Foundation and I look forward to talking more about that in the near future.
Of course there is plenty more work going on at the CCA. Producers in Saskatchewan will be able to find out more in June at a CCA Town Hall to be held in Moose Jaw. The CCA Town Hall will be held on June 8 in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) annual general meeting, which will take place on June 9-10. The Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association (SCA) will co-host the town hall.
This will be my first town hall as CCA president and I look forward to the presentation. These meetings offer a great opportunity for producers to meet with CCA leadership and managers and learn from them first hand about the work the CCA does on their behalf.