March was a busy month with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) 2015 annual general meeting (AGM) in Ottawa. I am pleased to report that myself and vice-president Dan Darling were acclaimed to our roles for another year. It is a great honour and tremendous privilege to serve the CCA and I thank the board for its continued confidence in my leadership. I promise to do the best that I can in the year ahead.
While on the subject of dedication to the organization, I’d like to thank outgoing board members Martin Rossmann (B.C.), Rob Somerville (Alta.), Larry Delver (Alta.) and Lynn Grant (Sask.) for their commitment and service over the years. The CCA also welcomed new board members John Anderson (B.C.), Colin Campbell (Alta.), and Tim Smith (Alta.) to the table. I look forward to working with them.
What a time to be part of the CCA. There is much enthusiasm in the industry right now. Bull sales have been reaping record results and to my mind that demand speaks to a renewed interest in breeding, even if the latest Statistics Canada herd numbers (January) don’t necessarily indicate heifer retention is taking place. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend a few bull sales this spring and witnessed first hand the strong prices being achieved. On these occasions I was asked to say a few words wearing my CCA hat and my remarks were warmly received. It is very rewarding for me that CCA’s work is widely recognized and appreciated by producers. Many sale-goers thanked me for the work the CCA does on their behalf and encouraged us to keep up the good work.
- More ‘CCA Reports’ with Dave Solverson: Washington trip encouraging
On that note, work continues to improve market access abroad. Later in March, I will be participating in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Minister Gerry Ritz’s trade mission to Asia. CCA will participate in the Korea and Japan portion of the trip and take part in roundtable discussions in Seoul and Tokyo. The CCA will meet with importers to continue discussions towards achieving a bilateral trade agreement with Japan that will benefit Canada’s beef producers.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellant Body’s decision on the U.S.’s mandatory country-of-origin labelling (COOL) is expected by May 18. The CCA fully expects that the WTO will once again rule in Canada’s favour and deliver a final decision that is consistent with its three previous rulings — namely that COOL causes discrimination against imports of live cattle and hogs in the U.S. marketplace and violates the U.S.’s international trade obligations.
The appeal is the U.S.’s final procedural option before Canada can request WTO authorization to retaliate. The Government of Canada has made it clear that it will impose duties on a targeted list of goods if the U.S. does not comply with its international trade obligations.
The prospect of having duties imposed on U.S. goods increasingly has the attention of U.S. industry and congressional leaders. We expect that their efforts to find a real resolution to COOL will intensify after the report from the Appellant Body is released. Following the final ruling, there will be a few months while the retaliation amount is arbitrated before the governments of Canada and Mexico can bring duties that would come into effect.
The CCA will continue its efforts in Washington, D.C., where we recently met with industry and congressional leaders, to advocate for a resolution that genuinely resolves the problem of COOL by eliminating the need for U.S. livestock buyers to segregate imported animals from U.S.-born animals.
It is significant to note that once the final WTO decision is reached and the authorization to retaliate is given, the legal burden will shift from Canada having to prove non-compliance to the U.S. having to prove compliance — meaning Canada (and Mexico) can decide if we are satisfied that the U.S. has fixed the problem — if not, Canada can put the duties in place and they will stay in place until a resolution acceptable to Canada is implemented.
I made a special point of thanking Minister Ritz and the Government of Canada for their efforts on COOL at the annual VIP reception in Ottawa. We had a good turnout — about 300 guests including a few dozen members of Parliament (MP), senators and staff, and other key influencers.
During the CCA committee meetings, Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, chief veterinary officer of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, presented an update on their ongoing BSE investigation. The CFIA is undertaking a very thorough and complex investigation and as such it will probably take a few months before the three lines of the investigation are completed. The CCA fully supports the CFIA’s investigation and believes the work accomplished to date is such that it should encourage the countries that have imposed temporary restrictions to return to normalized trade relations.
As a controlled-risk country for BSE, as recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), Canada is permitted to export beef from any age of animal given the established human and animal health controls it has in place.
As indicated by the bull sales, prices for all cattle types have remained very strong (and even strengthened) which is a good indication of a rational response from the market regarding the temporary suspensions.