The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) congratulates Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau, and the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) for their convincing win in the October 19 federal election. The CCA looks forward to working closely with the new government. As I write this column, the new cabinet had yet to be announced but the CCA hopes to achieve the same close and productive relationship with the new LPC government that we enjoyed with the Harper government, and with the Martin, Chretien and Mulroney governments before that.
During the run-up to the election, the LPC responded to the CCA’s questionnaire on important beef industry issues. It is posted on the CCA website and I encourage you to read it if you haven’t already done so to get a good idea of the LPC viewpoint.
The new Liberal government has nearly 150 new members of Parliament (MP). Most of them are elected in urban/suburban ridings, and the rural representation that does exist in caucus is concentrated east of Ottawa. The CCA will be following up to identify which members will emerge as the champions for agriculture across Canada. Of course, this will begin with the naming of the new minister of agriculture, likely on November 4. It will also involve informing the broader Parliament on beef cattle producer issues and the CCA will be actively engaged in undertaking that work.
At the same time, the CCA understands that most of rural B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and southern Ontario remain represented by Conservative MPs who know agriculture and beef issues well. The CCA will continue to keep them in the loop on our positions and ask for their assistance when needed.
In October I travelled to Durango, Mexico, to participate in the Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA) annual conference. This trip is another fine example of CCA relationship building in the industry — not only with the other beef producer organizations that comprise the FNBA and other interested parties, but the youth component of the beef industry. I was pleased to have Young Cattlemen’s Council rep Brodie Haugan and Cattlemen’s Young Leaders participant Bree Kelln attend the meetings alongside myself and CCA officials Dan Darling, Dennis Laycraft and John Masswohl. What a learning opportunity for these young leaders in Canada’s beef industry.
The trip to the State of Durango was enjoyable and informative. One thing that struck me throughout the ranch tours leading up to the conference was that the State of Durango has many similarities to parts of Canada. The area is cooler than most of Mexico, because of high elevation, and they are able to use bos Taurus genetics like we do in Canada.
In fact, the World Angus Secretariat was held at the same time as the FNBA meetings. A large contingent of Angus breeders from Canada were at the show in Durango and approximately 80 per cent of the cattle on display had Canadian bloodlines. Canadian seedstock producers are great ambassadors for the Canadian Beef Advantage.
Prior to the formal FNBA meetings in Mazatlan, CCA participated in side meetings with the other countries’ delegations. We have a longtime close relationship with our U.S., Mexican, Australian and New Zealand counterparts and now are getting to know the new members from Brazil and Paraguay. I was also pleased to see attendance of some producer guests from Uruguay who may seek to join the alliance in the future. A key message we shared is the importance for any potential members to understand and agree with the FNBA core principles on trade and sustainability.
I believe the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an example of success for the FNBA. All the negotiators from all countries were given the same information and advice and it resulted in a favourable outcome for the global meat trade.
Speaking of a global meat trade, in October Canada began to accept imports of EU beef for the first time in 19 years.
In practical terms the move will mean very little in terms of quantity of EU beef entering Canada. It remains subject to a 26.5 per cent tariff and a small duty free quota that typically gets filled by Uruguay in the early days of each year.
On the positive side, it means that Canada is living up to the position that we demand of other countries in terms of recognition of our BSE status. Every EU country has the same or better BSE risk status as Canada, but until now we have been unable to acknowledge that out of concern that moving ahead of the U.S. could have negative implications for Canadian access to the U.S.
Perhaps in a telling way of how much Canadians love their beef, some media were asking how consumers will be able to tell Canadian beef from European beef at the retail counter.
Of course consumers can look for the Canada Beef brand logo or the Canadian Grading mark system (AAA, AA, etc.). Both identify Canadian beef. Some suppliers also provide labels for regional branded programs of Canadian beef, such as Ontario Corn Fed.
Positioning Canadian beef as the best in the world is part of the effort of the National Beef Strategy underway now. Producers can learn more about this at their provincial association fall meetings.