August was another busy month on several fronts, with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) 2018 semi-annual meeting held in London, Ont., in conjunction with the Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC). The meetings got underway against a backdrop of concerns about weather across the country and its impact on farms back home. Hot and dry weather across much of the Prairies and smoky conditions related to wildfires in British Columbia were top of mind. For some, the conditions saw harvest come a little earlier on the Prairies than expected while others were dealing with smoke and fire issues. Either way, many producers were on the phone a fair bit trying to get things organized at home.
This was especially true for B.C. producers, where the ongoing wildfire situation prompted B.C. to declare a province-wide emergency for the second year in a row. During the CBIC conference, B.C. Cattlemen’s Association general manager Kevin Boon was often spotted making and taking calls on behalf of concerned producers. Fortunately, the emergency management infrastructure between government and the B.C. beef industry that Boon helped establish during last year’s fire season continues to help producers effectively manage their farms and livestock in emergency situations.
The CBIC tour of beef farms and feedlots in Ontario served as another reminder of the complexities of Canada’s beef industry between regions. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to raising cattle in Canada. I am always impressed by the innovative practices of producers, with production methods differing from region to region as producers work to tailor a program that works with the climate, land and environmental needs of their particular land base to ensure healthy and sustainable beef production.
Similarly, the CCA does a lot of good work and it’s important that we share that information with as many people as possible. At the semi-annual, we invite conference attendees to attend CCA committee meetings to get a better idea of what that work looks like. The committee meetings started with general information and overview of the work that each committee undertakes on behalf of Canada’s 60,000 beef farms and feedlots.
For example, conference goers received a big-picture view of sustainable beef production from Tim Hardman, beef director, sustainable food, World Wildlife Fund U.S. Hardman, a guest speaker at the CCA environment committee meeting, discussed how cattle can contribute to biodiversity. In his presentation, he explained the importance of balance in an ecosystem and how some ecosystems, and the species within them, depend on grazers to properly manage the land for that balanced target. When this is done well, it can lead to great results, for the producer, the wildlife and the entire system.
The foreign trade committee provided a status update on its top priorities, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations, ensuring access to Japan through the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), creating genuine access to Europe under the Canada-EU Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), resolving ongoing access issues with China, preparing for new negotiations with the U.K. and dealing with the new barriers as, and preferably before, they arise. The trade discussion continued on a tri-lateral basis with leadership from our U.S. and Mexican producer organizations, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas (CNOG).
The domestic agriculture policy and regulations committee held a panel discussion on the Business Risk Management Review. Many questions regarding BRM program design, awareness and changes under Canadian Agricultural Partnership were asked by the audience. The committee emphasized the need for a timely rollout of the Livestock Tax Deferral Provision in regions where feed supplies are running short. Ongoing efforts to expand a price insurance program beyond Western Canada and the Government of Canada’s regulatory review of the agri-food sector were also discussed.
The animal health and care committee held a panel discussion focused on the opportunities and challenges with the proposed traceability regulations. The committee also focused on the proposed Transportation of Animals regulations and ensuring that CCA take a leadership role in lobbying both USDA and CFIA to either revise or remove policies, processes, procedures, and legislation that restrict the free flow of feeder, replacement and breeding cattle across the U.S./Canadian border.
The value creation and competitiveness committee presented a panel discussion on a number of topics including connecting the beef value chain through data, Canadian food guide update, pending changes to beef grading in Canada, blockchain technology and its application in technology.
The provincial managers meeting also provides an opportunity for information sharing on top policy items for the beef sector within each province. This meeting helps build awareness and allows for collaboration where possible. A number of general themes were discussed including the provincial rollout of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership programming, livestock predation program design and upcoming changes to antibiotic purchasing rules.
I was pleased to attend the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders (CYL) program graduation ceremony and hand out certificates to another year of exceptional mentees. These 15 graduates are well equipped to succeed in whatever career path they choose
The CYL program is an important conduit between industry and young producers as it enables youth to put their passion for cattle production into action in meaningful ways that can help ensure a sustainable future.
Finally, the 2019 CBIC will return to Calgary, AB. I anticipate it will be another worthwhile event for Canada’s beef producers.
Until next time.