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Issues for 2014

Issues for 2014

The severe winter weather across most of the country forced many producers to find innovative ways to dig out themselves and their equipment in order to tend to their livestock. Abnormally cold weather, extreme wind chill, snow accumulations and in some parts, ice and power outages, certainly posed a challenge but producers understand their responsibility to care for their livestock no matter the conditions. Hopefully the brunt of the severe weather is behind us for good now with calving season fast approaching.

Most producers are naturally inclined to innovate on the farm for a variety of reasons but always with the main goal of being a sustainable beef cattle operation. In order to run a viable operation the industry needs to be sustainable as well. These days there is a lot of focus on sustainability within the industry which is attracting a lot of attention from the media. There, sustainability is a buzzword with broad meanings depending on how and where it is used. At the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), work is underway to define the term ‘sustainability’ as it applies to the beef cattle industry in Canada and globally. For the CCA, sustainability is comprised of the pillars: social, economic and environmental sustainability. This is the approach advanced by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB), an effort spearheaded by the CCA to facilitate a national dialogue to advance continuous improvement in the social, economic and environmental sustainability of the Canadian beef value chain. Work to define the term continues also at the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, of which CCA is a member.

In recognition of the role industry stakeholders and value chain partners can play in industry sustainability in Canada, the CCA will be presenting a new award during a special event at the CCA annual general meeting (AGM) in Ottawa, which will take place from March 4-7. The CCA created this new award as a way to publicly recognize and show appreciation for industry stakeholders and value chain members for their outstanding commitment to the sustainability of Canada’s beef industry through innovation.

The CCA is confident that this new award will become an annual event, given that innovation and sustainability are central to the success of the beef cattle industry. Watch for more information from the CCA on this award and details on the program itself in the coming months.

The CCA AGM is always a busy time. A lot of association work is accomplished at the event, in addition to lobbying efforts and networking activities with ministers, members of parliament, senators and other key influencers in Ottawa. This AGM will be a bit bittersweet for me as it will mark the end of my two-year term as president. I am extremely proud of the landmark accomplishments achieved by the CCA during my term. I will of course remain involved with the organization as past-president for the term, and look forward to seeing some important files through that the CCA has quite rightly devoted vast resources to.

U.S. mandatory country-of-origin labelling (mCOOL) is at the top of my list. Efforts to have mandatory country-of-origin labelling (mCOOL) legislation repealed in the U.S. Farm Bill in early January were to no avail. As I write this, there was some thought that progress could be made at the end of January at the Farm Bill conference.

CCA officials attended the State and Agriculture Rural Leaders’ meeting in Oklahoma in early January, and urged participants to make the most of the timing and contact their federal counterparts on the COOL issue. Similar advocacy efforts were expended at the American Farm Bureau Federation convention in San Antonio, Texas, and the National Western Stock Show in Denver, also held in January.

From the Country Guide website: WTO hears new COOL didn’t reduce grief for Canadian producers

The CCA is also preparing for the next round of Canada’s COOL challenge at the World Trade Organization (WTO) — an oral hearing in Geneva, Switzerland in February 2014. The Compliance Panel hearing the challenge will be composed of the same panellists who originally ruled COOL violates the U.S.’s WTO obligations. The oral hearing follows written briefings that took place through the fall of 2013.

We’ll continue to work to advance our efforts with Japan through the Trans-Pacific Partnership or an Economic Partnership Agreement, with the Government of Canada to achieve a free trade agreement with Korea, and other efforts designed to improve the sustainability of Canada’s beef cattle industry so producers can continue to do what they do best: raise the best beef in the world.

The CCA has a committed staff that care about the beef industry and that shows up in the work we get done every day. In my view, it is vitally important to have a committed staff and producers with skin in the game involved in the industry direction setting as they have the knowledge, insight and practical experience to fully grasp the potential ramifications of decisions that may be suggested in the pursuit of industry sustainability. The CCA continues to work on a draft five-year strategy that identifies key elements that will address industry needs moving forward.

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