Brad Wildeman is president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association
In these challenging times producers are asking more questions about leadership in the industry and how their hard-earned money is being used to represent their interests. At the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), we recognize that we need to communicate more about all the important activities we undertake for the industry that, unfortunately, often go unnoticed.
What’s being heard more often is the question: “Does the CCA even know what’s going on in the industry?” I can tell you that we are fully aware of what’s happening. And the best way to answer that question is to explain who the CCA is and what we do.
Moving the industry forward
The CCA works on virtually every major industry issue at the national and international level, proactively seeking change and promoting progressive policies, while dealing with significant threats to the industry. We encourage and promote industry innovation, influence and co-fund research and development activities.
Due to Canada’s highly trade-dependent cattle industry, the CCA remains one of the most active proponents of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and science-based, international standards. Annually, we spend nearly $1 million on trade advocacy to increase understanding about NAFTA, WTO and trade; to promote positive changes to these agreements; to defend against obstructionist policies and to build stronger relationships.
We meet regularly with U.S. Congressional leaders, plus senior officials in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). CCA representatives attend approximately 20 U.S. national and state cattle association meetings annually.
Our areas of focus
Although I can’t cover everything we work on, below are some highlights on current hot issues:
WTO challenge and U.S. mandatory country-of-origin labelling (mCOOL)
The CCA, with the Canadian Pork Council, developed the legal opinion that supported the Government of Canada initiating a WTO case against the U.S. on the discriminatory nature of the new mCOOL requirements. The CCA also submitted comments on the mCOOL regulations and sought greater, immediate flexibility in the final rule. As a result, greater flexibility appeared in the final rule that went into effect March 16.
We now face the stated threat of further U.S. regulation to make mCOOL far more discriminatory and are analyzing the impact of the final rule, as well as supporting the WTO action.
Export market access
The newly created federal Agricultural Market Access Secretariat (AMAS), focused on enhancing Canada’s market-access negotiating capabilities to restore and secure economically meaningful access to foreign markets, resulted from a report produced by the CCA. The report was accepted by the national Beef Value Chain Round Table last November, and the federal minister in January 2009.
Advancing industry interests in technology and market research
The CCA works with all sectors in the beef value chain and develops programs to establish Canada as the world leader in beef quality, safety, and animal health.
As the lead group in the creation of both the Canada Beef Grading Agency and the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency, we funded the development of their original business plans, worked on their incorporation, and provided seed money.
We built the scientific case, lobbied and achieved changes to our bluetongue rules to move it from a reportable disease to an annually notifiable disease. This eliminated a long-standing source of trade friction with the U.S. and unnecessary cost to importers of U.S. feeder cattle.
We influenced and changed animal health and animal care guidelines, working through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the Quad meetings (Canada, Australia, U.S. and New Zealand) and the Five Nation Beef Alliance (includes the Quad countries plus Mexico).
As founding members of the Canadian Animal Health Coalition that brings together livestock groups to work on animal health issues in Canada, we are currently working on a new Farmed Animal Health Strategy to ensure the industry is prepared for future animal health risks and events.
To recognize the outstanding efforts of individual cattle producers and promote the critical role cattle producers hold as stewards of the land, the CCA created a national environmental stewardship award.
Today we work on carbon trading, understanding of carbon sequestration and the importance of the cattle industry to bio-diversity. The CCA actively represents cattle producer interests in promoting the acceptance of science-based, offset protocols to utilize in mitigating emissions.
Keeping you informed
Our website recently received a major facelift to help you stay current with CCA’s industry efforts. Please visit www.cattle.casoon. See our latest annual report, plus information on current issues, plus sign-up for e-news. Want to receive any CCA news or publications in hard copy? Please contact our office 403-275-8558.