It was that time of year again as the CCA held its 2009 Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Ottawa, Ontario from March 16-20. Unfortunately this AGM saw Tony Saretsky step down as the CCA vice-president. However, Travis Toews will replace him and I look forward to working with Travis in my final year as President. I would also like to welcome Bob Lowe aboard as a new CCA director.
The top issues…
We all know there are a myriad of issues facing Canada’s beef cattle industry and the majority of them were touched upon in some way throughout the week. However, discussions centred upon the following several top issues:
WTO cases against Korea and mCOOL
Everyone unanimously reconfirmed their desire to initiate a World Trade Organization (WTO) case against Korea. During the week of the AGM, Minister Ritz flew to Korea to issue an ultimatum to open their border to trade or Canada would launch a WTO case. It appears the ultimatum fell on deaf ears. So we will be working closely with the Government of Canada to finalize and launch a WTO case.
Furthermore, once ample evidence highlighting the disruption to trade due to Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labelling (mCOOL) is gathered and documented, a WTO case against the final rule will be launched. Everyone in attendance agreed on this, noting their eagerness to pursue every opportunity to combat mCOOL.
Fixing BRM programs
The glaring lack of support from the current suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs remains a main issue for both individuals and organizations within the industry. The general consensus was that the programs are not working in any province and a fresh approach is needed, across the board, as quickly as possible.
The CCA will convene at a later date for the purpose of developing a new, more effective suite of programs to present to the federal government.
The Manitoba Cattle Producers’ Association (MCPA) has been doing a lot of work to address environment goods and services (EG&S). Subsequent to their work, the CCA board passed a resolution to begin development of a national program. EG&S is a “hot topic” with both the urban and rural consumers and we have to create a plan that will aid the entire Canadian industry. Improving the industry’s marketing associations
Last year, the CCA commissioned a significant study to look at ways of improving the industry’s marketing arms — Canada Beef Export Federation (CBEF) and the Beef Information Centre (BIC). The workload for both organizations is increasing while the budgets are getting tighter and tighter.
An expert steering committee was appointed to oversee the study and after several months, the committee came back with several recommendations looking at governance and program delivery; which were presented during the CCA’s AGM. The CCA accepted the recommendations and work is ongoing to incorporate them.
CCA committees and the top issues:
Value Creation & Competitiveness
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) completed work on equations to support the use of computer vision grading systems to assign marbling grades. A letter was sent to Minister Ritz requesting Canada adopt the same marbling equation for this equipment, without the requirement to conduct additional research.
Moving to instrument grading of beef carcasses continues to hold strong interest.
The Code of Practice renewal will be finalized by the end of March. The next step is to apply to renew the beef Code through the finalized process — which likely will be a two-year process. The end product will be a new Code.
Transport of livestock has been a hot button issue; with an increased call for training of transporters.
Animal Health & Meat Inspection
Updates on the November E. coli workshop and tuberculosis investigations were given.
A proposal for the development of national standards for disease prevention practices through biosecurity was discussed.
The committee submitted comments on the final report of the Own Use Import Task Force.
Domestic Agricultural Policy & Regulations The flood situation in Manitoba’s Interlake
region provides an instructional basis for considering the Agri-Recovery part of Growing Forward.
The Cattle Price Insurance Program, which is to be rolled out in Alberta this summer was discussed. Concerns included how basis insurance can reliably work over time and the program defeating itself by having high uptake.
Work on the Environmental Strategy White Paper continues.
The committee discussed ecological services based on a presentation of the MCPA paper, Environmental and Rural Stewardship Remuneration for Agriculture in Manitoba. The Committee is interested in exploration of the concepts behind payment for ecological services and how to move the discussion forward to actual delivery.
There are several opportunities for increasing access for Canadian beef exports through trade negotiations, most significantly with Europe.
As frustrating as mCOOL has been, it could become worse if USDA Secretary Vilsack’s incorporates his suggested guidelines into the final rule.