Volume 4 Issue 8 • March 14, 2011

In This Issue ...


CCA presents beef industry position on antimicrobial use to House Standing Committee

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) was among the livestock groups to address the House Standing Committee on Health Regarding Antimicrobial Resistance in Ottawa last week. The Chicken Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Pork Council also had representatives at the committee.

The committee scheduled the hearing following a recent CBC Marketplace segment, which attempted to link the use of antibiotics in the livestock industry with antibiotic resistance in humans. The piece focussed largely on chicken production in Canada. The Chicken Farmers of Canada said the piece left viewers with the impression that the chicken industry uses antibiotics irresponsibly.

CanFax Market BriefsSome Committee members noted that the Marketplace item sparked a flurry of calls to their offices from upset members of the public. Mike Dungate of Chicken Farmers of Canada told the committee the televised segment was misleading and should not be the basis of government policy going forward.

Industry focussed on providing the committee with as much information as possible to clarify an extremely complicated issue. Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) science director Dr. Reynold Bergen presented the industry's position on the use of antibiotics. In addition to clarifying the role of ionophores in the industry -- ionophores are of no importance to human health -- Dr. Bergen explained to the committee that responsible use of antimicrobials in beef production allows the industry to minimize the need to use antibiotics that are of higher importance to human health.

Dr. Bergen noted that the industry has nothing to gain from overuse of antimicrobials because once microbes develop resistance, these very important tools would not work as well.

"Losing the effectiveness of those tools is something that we can't afford to have happen," Dr. Bergen said. "Producers use these antimicrobials in a very targeted manner, firstly because they are costly, and also because producers need these products to be effective."

The CCA's John Masswohl provided a pre-amble to Dr. Bergen's remarks, in which he emphasized that cattle producers take food safety very seriously and that producers are committed to ensuring the beef they produce is safe for consumers. To this end, he noted the CCA's development of the Verified Beef Production (VBP) program, which ensures that cattle producers are following proper on-farm food safety practices. Dr. Bergen gave further details on how VBP seeks to ensure the proper use of antibiotics in cattle production.

Emphasis was placed on the CCA's support of the Public Health Agency of Canada's Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS) Program. CIPARS monitors antimicrobial resistance in samples submitted to provincial diagnostic labs, healthy animals sampled at abattoirs, and retail meat samples.

Through the BCRC, the industry is supporting the extension of CIPARS to monitor antimicrobial use and resistance at the farm level. The CIPARS study is not done yet, but the following summary is available:

We will follow up with a future story if any ongoing implications arise from this hearing.

The following factsheets provide information that the BCRC has funded on antimicrobial resistance:


Minister Ritz makes funding announcement for BIXS, Cluster at CCA AGM

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz dropped by the CCA Annual General Meeting in Ottawa to announce more than $8 million in funding to help Canadian cattle farmers improve their profitability and competitiveness. The investment sees $5.3 million in AgriFlexibility funds earmarmarked for the Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS), $2.5 million in funds from the Agri-Innovations Program for the Beef Science Cluster and $364,000 from Growing Forward for the CCA's on-farm food safety program, the Verified Beef Production program.

Minister Ritz said the funding will ensure a strong industry here at home. The $5.3 million will help farms, feedlots and packing plants update their information technology systems to ensure they remain compatible with BIXS.

"In today's global economy, knowledge is power and information is money. The information shared across the beef value chain will help improve production efficiencies, lower costs, improve carcass quality and value and ultimately improve the competitiveness of Canada's beef and cattle industry," he said.

The $2.5 million in funding for Phase II of Canada's Beef Science Cluster will help to support research already being done. The Phase II announcement builds on the $6 million in Cluster funding Minister Ritz announced at the CCA's annual meeting last year. The additional funding has allowed the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) to fund a dozen more projects under the Beef Science Cluster.

The funding will focus on research in beef quality, food safety, forage and grassland productivity, feed efficiency, and overall animal health and welfare, the Minister said.

The industry estimates that improvements in these areas will total an extra $218 million into producers' pockets.

The funding allows for four additional Animal Health and Welfare studies. One project is studying the tick that spreads Anaplasmosis, and another is trying to develop a better diagnostic test for Anaplasmosis. A third project is looking at new diagnostic tests for a pair of reproductive diseases (vibrio and trichomoniasis), and a final project is looking at the effect of trailer ventilation and truck loading density on the health and performance of feedlot calves.

Four new Forage and Grassland projects are examining forage seed mixtures for different regions of Canada, reducing swath grazing costs, determining whether swath grazing in late summer (instead of winter) can help prolong the life of perennial pastures, and developing better tools to breed barley with improved forage yields and higher fibre digestibility.

Two new Food Safety projects are looking at alternative ways to improve the safety of beef trim for ground beef, their cost-effectiveness, and their effects on retail acceptability.

Finally, a pair of Beef Quality studies are trying to improve beef tenderness. One is looking for better gene markers for tenderness, and another is looking at things that processors may be able to use to improve tough beef cuts before they get to consumers.

(More information on the Beef Science Cluster, and links to all of the Cluster projects are available at http://www.cattle.ca/canadas-beef-science-cluster).

The $364,000 for the VBP program will help the CCA update its food safety materials for producers and ensure the continued uptake of this important on-farm food safety program.

"This will help cattle producers build on Canada's reputation for safe, high quality food right from the farm gate," Ritz said.

CCA President Travis Toews thanked the minister, and noted the CCA is pleased to receive the funding. The financial commitment to BIXS in particular will move the industry forward and allow producers to "make production enhancing decisions that will leave us more competitive in the end."


CCA Annual General Meeting

The 2011 CCA Annual General Meeting was a great success. CCA President Travis Toews and Vice President Martin Unrau were re-elected for another term. The week was full of intensive meetings, a House of Commons Committee meeting, and a very well-attended VIP Reception that attracted Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, Minister of State for Finance Ted Menzies, and several MP's.


The CCA Thanks its Prime Partners

The CCA recognizes and thanks the continued support of the Canadian cattle industry by Prime Partners: Intervet Canada Corp., Scotiabank and Farm Credit Canada.

To learn more about the CCA Partners Program, visit www.cattle.ca/cca-partners-program.

CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: John Masswohl, Reynold Bergen
Written, edited and compiled by: Gina Teel and Tracy Sakatch

To sign up for CCA's “Action News”:
Visit www.cattle.ca and click on “Sign-up for Action News”.

For more information, contact:

CCA Communications at feedback@cattle.ca or visit our website at www.cattle.ca

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association is the national voice for nearly 83,000 Canadian beef cattle producers.

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