Volume 2 Issue 10 • May 10, 2010

In This Issue ...


Trade Issue update: the low down on where they’re at

The CCA is engaged with the Government of Canada trade negotiators and lawyers to ensure that the interests of the cattle industry are being accurately reflected in Canadian positions. Here is an update on where we are at on the various fronts.

The two WTO panels Canada is pursuing are at different phases. The case against Korea’s ban on Canadian beef reached the oral arguments stage the week of April 12 whereby Canadian and Korean trade lawyers appeared before the WTO panel in Geneva, Switzerland to present their respective sides and answer the panel’s questions. We understand that nothing unanticipated arose during this session. In terms of next steps, both parties are preparing written answers to questions posed by the panel. In addition, the panel will be seeking appropriate scientific experts to appear for questioning.  

The Canada-Mexico joint panel against U.S. Country of Origin Labelling is less advanced. On April 28, Canada and Mexico formally notified the WTO Secretary General that we are unable to reach agreement with the U.S. on the panelists and requested him to appoint the panelists. The Secretary General will respond by May 10 and his selection of panelists will be final. Once the panelists are named, a timetable for written submissions and oral arguments can be established. At this point, it appears that September is the earliest oral arguments could be made.

Canfax Market BriefsThe CCA participated in the Canada-Mexico Partnership meetings in Ontario on April 20-21 to discuss Canadian over-thirty-month (OTM) shipments to Mexico, Mexican beef exports to Canada and our cooperation on COOL, as well as other issues. The cattle/beef/small ruminants sub-group of the CMP agreed on 19 recommendations aimed at normalizing trade in both directions between Canada and Mexico. Following the CMP meetings, Canadian and Mexican government officials met to review the industry action recommendations. The Mexicans have acknowledged that they have all the risk assessment information they require from Canada. The next step is for Mexico to provide its response and convene a meeting of Mexican and Canadian health authorities. We are hopeful this meeting will occur before the end of June.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Russia was in Ottawa on April 28 where he met with Ministers Peter Van Loan and Gerry Ritz. The CCA President Travis Toews was also invited to a luncheon event in honour of the visit. In the days leading up to the visit, the Russian Veterinary Service notified the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) that the paperwork had been finalized enabling existing approved Canadian beef exporters of boneless under-thirty-month (UTM) to now also ship bone-in UTM and boneless OTM beef. This is a welcome development and the next step will be for the Russian officials to approve additional Canadian beef export facilities.

The Canada-Europe Comprehensive Trade Negotiations are continuing with the third negotiating round taking place in Ottawa during the last week of April. Feedback at the conclusion of this round was that despite the cloud of volcanic ash preventing several of the EU negotiating team from travelling to Canada, the negotiations did not fall behind schedule and may even be a slightly ahead of expectations. Although details about tariff elimination for beef will come at the very end of the negotiations, the CCA remains optimistic that there will be a landmark result for Canadian beef exports. Any Canadian beef cattle producer that has not already written or phoned their MP to express support for unlimited beef access to Europe should do so.

Take note - Prime Minister Harper attended the Canada-EU Summit in Belgium on May 5 where he re-affirmed Canada’s commitment to concluding an ambitious Canada-EU trade agreement. It would be very positive for individual beef producers to write to the Prime Minister thanking him for his leadership to get this deal done. When it comes down to the final negotiating session, which include bargaining the hard items like beef tariffs, if will be very important for the Prime Minister to know that beef producers are supporting him on this agreement.

Parliament Update – Mixed Impacts on Competitiveness

Every day that Parliament sits, there is at least one hour set aside for Private Members business. This is when non-Cabinet MPs get to put forth bills or motions for the House to consider. Since Election 40 in October 2008, 62 of these have been debated, passed, defeated or ruled out of order.

Two recent issues are of interest to the agriculture industry; one for its good direction and the other for its worrisome nature.  

Motion M-460, which regular readers of Action News will recall was introduced by MP Bev Shipley (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, ON), passed on a voice vote on April 16. This positive motion gives the House’s opinion that “the government should ensure that production management tools available to Canadian farmers are similar to those of other national jurisdictions by considering equivalent scientific research and agricultural regulatory approval processes by Health Canada, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.”

If regulatory bodies take this advice to heart it should mean better access here in Canada to the inputs that producers in other countries already have. Time lags or outright lack of access to new technologies costs producers in Canada every year. The CCA will work with MP Shipley to follow up this motion. This subject has also been discussed regularly at the Beef Value Chain Roundtable meetings. Improvements have been implemented at Health Canada’s Vet Drugs Directorate but work remains to ensure producers have access to competitively priced inputs similar to our competitors in other countries, especially the U.S.

On the other side of the competitiveness issue is bill C-474, which would require changes to Seeds Regulations. The changes would require completion of an analysis of potential impact on Canada’s export sales before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted. On its face, this sounds like a reasonable request. However, a little digging reveals that this would allow other countries to unduly influence seed innovation in Canada. Rather than working on science-based rules for trade, this bill would give importing countries the ability to say, “No, we won’t accept that,” without any reasoning. The resulting lag in efficiency improvements in Canada’s grain sector would not help Canada’s cattle sector, a main purchaser of Canadian grains. This bill was approved to move to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food for consideration. If the Committee studies the bill, the CCA hopes to have the opportunity to express our position.


Forages and grasslands get national voice; deliver economic, environmental value

Forages are considered the largest single crop grown in Canada and are viewed by some as the backbone of the cattle industry. It stands to reason, then, that Canada’s forage and grassland sector have national representation. The newly formed Canadian Forage & Grassland Association does just that, with an eye to promoting the growth of the forage and grassland sector on the domestic and international fronts.

Headquartered in Brandon, Manitoba, the national association aims to position the sector as a sustainable and environmentally friendly industry with a focus on research and market development, innovation and technology transfer. The association’s board of directors will be comprised of representatives from across the forage industry, including the livestock sector, to ensure a comprehensive approach.

“We see the livestock sector certainly as the most important piece of the forage and grassland industry in Canada,” Wayne Digby, the association’s executive director, told Action News. “We estimate probably 85 per cent of the feed that goes into an animal is forages, in one form or another.”

Research tops the association’s concerns, from the development of new forages right through to the research on grazing lands. “Canada has a vast area of rangelands and we feel that, if anything, there’s a drawing back of research into those areas, and technology transfer as well, so we feel that there’s an important role to play,” he said.

A recently-released report by the Sakskatchewan Forage Council on the economic and environmental value of Saskatchewan’s forage industry pegged the direct economic value generated by forages at $740 million annually in that province.

Indirect benefits, which included erosion control, flood control, water quality, wildlife habitat, pollination services and carbon sequestration, were valued at $895 million to $1.9 billion annually. All told, the direct and indirect value from Saskatchewan forages was estimated at $2 billion to $3 billion annually in that province, the report said.

Having a similar report on a national scale would be ideal, Digby said.

The new association is very supportive of the CCA’s efforts to secure funding for a renewed grazing mentorship program, noted Lynn Grant, Chair of the CCA Environment Committee. “We look forward to working with CFGA to encourage research and technology transfer in grasses and forages. That work benefits cattle producers’ bottom line and conserves the environment.”

The CCA encourages environmentally-sustainable production practices and recognizes the critical role forages and grasslands play.


Testing for Tenderness

Consistently tender beef is the holy grail of the beef industry. However, numerous beef quality audits have demonstrated that nearly one fifth of beef is unacceptably tough. A Beef Cattle Research Council project validated a DNA marker for tenderness that had been developed by University of Guelph researchers. This tenderness marker is now part of a commercially available DNA marker panel for tenderness. To read more about this study, click here.


Cattle call for photos

We at the CCA know that plenty of cattle producers are photo buffs, which is why we are presenting avid shutter bugs with an opportunity to showcase their best work. The CCA is looking for photos that capture those everyday moments of life on a working ranch or feedlots to be used in our various publications. For all the details, and to submit your photos, go to www.cattle.ca

CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: John Masswohl, Ryder Lee, Peggy Strankman, Reynold Bergen
Written, edited and compiled by: Gina Teel and Tracy Herbert

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 90,000 Canadian beef cattle producers

Head office:
Ste. 310, 6715 8th Street NE, Calgary, AB   T2E 7H7
Phone: 403.275.8558   Fax: 403.274.5686

Ottawa office:
1207, 350 Sparks Street, Ottawa, ON   K1R 7S8
Phone: 613.233.9375   Fax: 613.233.2860