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CCA REPORTS – for Sep. 7, 2009

Brad Wildeman is president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association

Highlights from our national convention and semi-annual meetings

In August, the industry gathered in Regina for our semi-annual meetings and annual convention focused on “Conquering Market Challenges.”

Delegates heard the latest on the Canadian Beef Advantage, the new Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS), slated for rollout this fall, and presentation of the Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA). Congratulations to the Madley family and their Canyon Ranch from Alexis Creek, B.C. — this year’s TESA recipients.

Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Gerry Ritz, wrapped up the day fielding audience questions during a 45-minute, open-mike session, covering most of the industry’s hottest issues. He got right down to business — forgoing an introductory speech so producers could have the floor.

Below are a few highlights from our semi-annual meetings — a time when everyone can observe the work of the CCA’s board committees and have a great opportunity to make yourself heard.

Status of agricultural market access secretariat

Fred Gorrell, the newly appointed head of AMAS, joined the Foreign Trade Committee meeting. On board for two months, Fred is busy laying groundwork for the secretariat. He characterized the AMAS as more than the “government’s secretariat,” but belonging to the industry too. Working from the CCA’s proposed basic structure of the AMAS, Fred is now focused on formulating an operational plan for joint development by the government and industry.

By mid-September, the secretariat’s team will number around a dozen staff, serving administrative, analytical and consultative roles in support of its central technical functions. Each function fulfills the primary purpose of the secretariat — to coordinate and enhance all market access functions of the government and industry.

Fred reported that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) embraced the AMAS initiative, inviting their key staff to participate. Dr. Gary Little, CFIA’s negotiating workhorse for reopening beef markets, is leading AMAS technical functions. By month end, a number of additional CFIA veterinary officials are expected to come aboard.

Although CCA’s focus centres on the secretariat’s livestock and meat capabilities, the AMAS will serve all sectors of agriculture and employ officials to work on plant-product market access issues as well.

CCA directors pressed Fred on a number of details, but clearly re-enforced our message that time is of the essence to achieve a fully operational AMAS, as well as noting that the beef industry wants to take an active role in its formative process and ongoing operations. Fred agreed that government and industry would move forward together as rapidly as possible, indicating that we will have the opportunity for more in-depth discussion at the Beef Value Chain Roundtable meeting scheduled for mid-September.

Mandatory country-of-origin labelling

Through continued interaction with the Government of Canada and its working group, the CCA is looking at the economic situation caused by mCOOL and attempting to quantify the damage. These hard numbers are the key to moving forward with a trade case at the WTO.

We are continuing to urge the Government of Canada to proceed on their request for a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel against the U.S. and their mandatory country-of-origin labelling.

Forming a cattle price insurance and basis program

The CCA is also closely following development of a national cattle price and basis insurance program after federal, provincial and territorial agricultural ministers directed their officials to develop a model for review at their next meeting. We continue to lobby aggressively to develop, this front-line business risk management program as effective and affordable, in collaboration with governments and industry.

Improving communication with producers — real-time, video news delivery

In our efforts to improve access to critical news and industry information for you, we continue to undertake some major initiatives. After our website, www.cattle.ca,received a major facelift this spring, our latest innovation deserves the closest look.

This fall, we’re launching a unique real-time news delivery system of news, events, projects and programs, plus market and trade information. After a two-stage pilot is completed in early fall, the system is slated to begin rollout at auction marts across Canada.

Video monitors linked directly to a central website deliver up-to-the-minute information from regional, national and international perspectives, including local content from the auction mart, plus market facts from CanFax and North American commodity markets. Once the pilot is completed, together with our provincial members, we plan to take the new system nationwide.

News delivery services — direct to you

And just in case you’re not out at the local auction mart daily, we’re enhancing our CCA news services to deliver the latest industry news directly to individual subscribers — free. As a subscriber, you can select timely news and information on the issues that matter most to you, delivered in a format you prefer— either fax or e-mail.

Sign-up for CCA’s news service on our website at www.cattle.ca,or call 403-275-8558.

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