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Newsmakers – for Feb. 9, 2009

Daryl Kenneth (Doc) Seaman of the OH Ranch at Longview, Alta., passed away January 11 at the age of 86, after a long battle with prostate cancer. Born in Rouleau, Sask., he became one of Alberta’s most successful oilmen and industrialists through his company, Bow Valley Industries. He was also an original Calgary Flames owner and a key player in building the Saddledome in Calgary. His many honours include: Officer of the Order of Canada; member of the Alberta Order of Excellence; inductee into the Calgary Business Hall of Fame and honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from both the University of Calgary and the University of Saskatchewan.

John Church, previously a special projects manager in Edmonton with Alberta Agriculture, has been appointed as the B. C. Regional Innovation Chair in cattle industry sustain-ability at Kamloops-based Thompson Rivers University. Church will lead a research team focused on developing new techniques and technologies to help make B. C.’s cattle industry sustainable. The province has put up $1.25 million for the chair through its Leading Edge Endowment Fund. The Cattle Industry Development Council and Real Estate Foundation of B. C. also funded the chair with contributions of $625,000 and $250,000, respectively.

British Columbia’s minister of agriculture and lands, Comox Valley MLA Stan Hagen, died suddenly in Victoria January 22 reportedly of a heart attack. He was 68. He had been renamed to the agriculture portfolio in a cabinet shuffle last June, after serving briefly in the portfolio in 2003 when then-minister John van Dongen stepped aside temporarily during a police investigation. He served as the Comox area’s Social Credit MLA from 1986 to 1991 and was re-elected as a Liberal in 2001 and 2005.

January was a busy month for federal ag minister Gerry Ritz who seemed to be reincarnated as the Energizer Bunny in the new year. First he announced the creation of a new market access secretariat to co-ordinate the expansion of ag exports, particularly beef exports. The cattle industry and the Beef Industry Round Table have been stumping for this secretariat for some time. The hope is it will replace the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as the lead in negotiating market access for Canadian beef and pork in foreign markets. As such it is expected to be made up of a range of trade experts with experience in marketing and animal health regulations.

Almost as soon as this announcement came out Mr. Ritz hopped on a plane to lead a marketing mission to Asia and signed a new phased-in accord for beef in Hong Kong. Details are found elsewhere in this issue.

Later in the month he deferred repayments of cash advances under the Advance Payment Program (APP) for cattle and hog producers until Sept. 30, 2010. The first $100,000 of each producer’s advance will continue to be interest-free. The extension of the repayment deadline applies to the more than $450 million in regular and emergency loans taken out in the 2008-09 fiscal year. Producers can still apply for APP emergency advances until Mar. 31, 2009.

Georges Mamelonet, the Liberal MNA for Gaspe, has been named parliamentary assistant to Laurent Lessard, Quebec’s minister of agriculture, fisheries and food.

On January 19 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency tightened up the rules on the import of live horses from the United States in response to an outbreak of contagious equine metritis (CEM). U. S. horses can still be imported without an import permit, (except from Florida), but they will now require a U. S. veterinary health certificate.

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