Volume 5 Issue 1 • May 24, 2011

In This Issue ...


Parliamentary Update

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) is eager to get to work with some familiar and not-so familiar faces in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's new cabinet.

Last week's cabinet shuffle saw Gerry Ritz remain with the Agriculture and Agri-Food portfolio. The CCA looks forward to continuing to work with the Minister on issues of importance to Canada's beef cattle industry. Minister Ritz has worked tirelessly to improve market access for Canadian cattle, beef and other agricultural exports and we appreciate his efforts. The CCA will continue to press for improvements to our competitiveness both on the trade front and at home in our regulatory and business environment.

New to the cattle industry scene is Ed Fast as International Trade Minister. The B.C. MP replaces Peter Van Loan, who was named Government House Leader. The CCA looks forward to working with Fast to establish important new trade agreements with Europe, Korea and Japan as well as resolving formal beef and cattle trade disputes with the U.S. and Korea.

Peter Kent returns as Minister of the Environment. The CCA will continue to work with the Minister to ensure that cattle producers continue to be recognized as a key component of the environmental solution.

It is unclear at this point how long Parliament will sit before they recess for the summer break.  This will be determined through consultation between the political parties, but is unlikely to go beyond the end of June.  One of the first priorities will be to re-introduce and pass the Budget.  We hope the Committees of Parliament will be established prior to the summer recess.


Lake Manitoba Flooding Update

Cattle producers impacted by flooding around Lake Manitoba remain focussed on moving their herds to higher ground and sourcing pasture for the evacuated animals. Arnthor Jonasson, who runs a cow-calf operation on Lake Manitoba in the RM of Siglunes, has already evacuated 210 of his 300 cows and 100 yearlings. The evacuated animals will be going to pastures near Gladstone and Pipestone that he found with help from fellow producers.

CanFax Market Briefs"My contacts with Manitoba Beef Producers have come through for me here," he told Action News in an interview. "It's very humbling to get the response from producers around the province to our plight. They've been coming out in droves and making pasture available. My phone has been ringing off the wall."

Flood waters have already taken out a service road that the school bus comes on, and water is lapping at the top of the main road into Jonasson's place. He said the EMO was able to keep the road open for them by bringing in crushed rock, which enabled them to get the semi-trailers in to haul the cattle out. Producers in the area that aren't in danger of losing their roads are scrambling to get pasture, he said.

The Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) said there are about 69,000 head of cattle in the affected RM's surrounding Lake Manitoba. On May 10, the Province of Manitoba declared a livestock emergency and indicated that up to 100,000 head of cattle may be affected province-wide.

Lake Manitoba is expected to peak around June 15. The MBP continues to ask all producers, grain farmers, neighbours, crown lands leasees who have land available and are willing and able to take in cattle on either a short or long term basis, to call the MBP office immediately at 1-204‐772‐4542 or 1-800‐772‐0458. Volunteers that have experience working cattle are also needed.

"The positive side is that we are working well with MAFRI on these short-term solutions and getting these producers the immediate help they need," said MBP communications manager Audrey Treichel. "Our big concern and priority is compensation for them moving forward."

CCA Vice-President Martin Unrau has been helping out where he can. Unrau runs a cow-calf operation near MacGregor, MB, and has lined up pasture and helped move cattle. He summed up the overall situation by saying some producers are trying to move cattle, while others aren't sure they can move their cattle due to the conditions. "It's just a wait and see and guys are working to get their cattle out," Unrau said.

The CCA will be monitoring the flooding and will evaluate the need for an emergency program response. The CCA will also work with MBP to ensure the right approach is taken.

Jonasson said early predictions from Manitoba Water Stewardship had the forecast peak for Lake Manitoba at 814.4 ft. -- enough to take out all the native hay meadows along the lake. As of May 18, the forecast peak for Lake Manitoba was 815.8 ft., or enough to take out all his pastures too. Jonasson estimated that about 2,000 of his 3,200 acres will be under water when the lake gets to the predicted height. He added that he has been advised that the flood water will be remain until at least November.

"I have never, ever, seen the lake like this and if their predictions are right, it's going to swamp everything," he said. Jonasson may have to sell his cows if he can't bring his animals back home this fall, but doesn't want to think about that right now.

Alberta-based CCA director Bob Lowe is in Manitoba at his grass ranch near Suffren, about 40 miles north and east of St. Laurent. He's got about 7,000 acres that stretch west and south as well as east and south and "basically surrounds Burnt Lake."

Parts of his property are underwater and all the drains from his place go to Lake Manitoba. Lowe estimated that he's down at least 1,000 to 1,500 acres due to water and nearly twice that if sloughs are counted in. That's bearing in mind that he hasn't been able to see the eastern part of his property "because I can't get there," given the conditions.

The problem at his place, and his neighbours, is the length of time it's going to take to drain the land. "There's just so much water everywhere and things are so flat," he said.

Rain is about the only thing that will affect him now, but it will take time for his fields to drain. Due to the conditions, Lowe estimated he will have just 200 cows, which means running his operation at less than half capacity. Still, Lowe knows he's better off than other folks. There's a possibility that he may be able take some additional cattle on the East side of his property in two or three months, but he won't know for sure until the road dries up and he's able to check on it.

Producers facing evacuation or other related emergency and in need of assistance can call the MBP office 1-204‐772‐4542 or 1- 800‐772‐0458 or visit www.mbbeef.ca to find out the necessary steps of action and how MBP can assist further or direct them to the right resources.


Slave Lake Fire Update – Procedure to help livestock producers gain access to farms

Producers impacted by the Slave Lake Fire are required to follow procedure to gain access to their farms to check-on or feed/water livestock. Access to farms will be restricted until the evacuation orders are lifted, the Government of Alberta said.

Farmers may be authorized to have an escorted visit to their farms for the purpose of ensuring adequate feed and water are available. Producers can request authorization to visit their farm by calling: 310 – 4455.

Producers are required to provide the following information: name; cell phone contact number; legal land description for farm; number and type of animals on farm; what they would like to do while on farm and an estimate of how long it will take; and if the area is without power, how they plan to feed and water the animals. Producers will be contacted with a scheduled time to go to the checkpoint for access.


Cycle Indicators & Heifer Retention

Canfax Research Services presents a new fact sheet series sponsored by Intervet/Schering-Plough. This new series, published twice a year, will cover production economics.

Alberta 550 lb calf prices averaged $148/cwt in the first quarter, $36/cwt higher than 2010. This is the highest first quarter average since 2001. Fed cattle prices have averaged $23/cwt higher than 2010 in Q1 and cow prices have averaged $20/cwt higher. With cattle prices moving up, renewed optimism has many asking if the Canadian cattle industry will enter an expansion phase in 2011.

This first fact sheet provides an overview of beef cow inventories, cow marketings, heifer retention, cow-calf profitability, and feedlot margins. Discussion will focus on where we are in the cattle cycle, the value of a heifer (if investing), and the general economic environment in the coming year. The full document is available at http://canfax.ca/FactSheets.aspx.


Pasture Management and Productivity

The types of forages that are found in a pasture change over time in response to weather conditions and grazing management. Some plants can compete better in dry spots, and some thrive in the wet. All plants have critical growth periods, but different plants have different critical growth periods, so grazing management can influence which plants remain in the pasture stand. Legumes can improve soil fertility and pasture productivity. Alfalfa is a productive forage legume, but can increase the risk of bloat. Sainfoin is less likely to cause bloat, but is less commonly used. An early BCRC project studied how grazing practices and legume seeding influence soil quality, pasture productivity, legume persistence and animal gains. Click here to read more.


Cattle Call for Photos

Cattle PhotoWe at the CCA are once again presenting avid shutter bugs in the beef business with an opportunity to showcase their best work. The CCA is looking for well-composed, candid photos that capture everyday moments on a working ranch or feedlot.

Use your creativity and imagination to showcase good management practices or your favorite aspects of being involved in Canadian cattle production. Photos selected by the CCA communications team may be used in our various publications and on the CCA website.

We thank everyone who submitted photos last year, including Debbie Pimm of Milk River, Alberta who submitted this photo she snapped while bringing cattle home from pasture in the fall. Her photo was featured on the cover of the 2010 CCA National Convention publication.

Please email your high resolution photos and contact information to CCA communications coordinator Tracy Sakatch at: sakatcht@cattle.ca.


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, Brenna Grant, 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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