Volume 2 Issue 11 • May 25, 2010

In This Issue ...


Focus on on-farm biosecurity as FMD spreads in Japan and South Korea

Outbreaks of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in South Korea and Japan have occurred despite biosecurity measures being in place, ending nearly a decade of FMD-free status in both countries. The outbreaks have prompted the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to issue a global warning regarding the spread of the disease.

The last time FMD occurred in Canada was in 1952, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) would like to keep it that way, as would the Canadian livestock industries. The Canfax Market Briefsagency has already bolstered pre-border and border inspections in collaboration with the Canadian Border Services and has a number of procedures in place to minimize the risk in Canada.

“It’s important to recognize the fact that the vigilance of our border controls has been instrumental in keeping FMD out of the country,” said Dr. Lorne Jordan, the CFIA’s acting National Manager of the Office of Animal Biosecurity.

Producers can do their part by ensuring their on-farm biosecurity measures mitigate FMD spread from some of the biggest risks to their operation: international visitors or returning farm workers from countries known to have FMD.

“If there are international visitors or returning farm workers coming back from a country where there is known to be Foot and Mouth disease, we recommend that they stay away from livestock for at least five days after returning,” Dr. Jordan said.

Five days is the length of time the virus that causes FMD can survive on items like clothing, footwear and equipment. (Click here for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) fact sheet on FMD)

Biosecurity measures, such as knowing where the livestock on your farm come from, controlling access to the farm, ensuring vehicles entering the property wash their tires, and the use of plastic boots and coveralls for people when they visit, are all good steps to follow.

Producers should closely monitor their animals for signs of the disease, and immediately report any suspicion to a veterinarian for a clinical assessment, he added. The CFIA has a video highlighting these and other steps at: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/biosec/tooute.shtml.

The CCA is leading a project to develop national voluntary biosecurity standard for the beef cattle industry that will be based on practical management strategies producers can incorporate into their farm practices.

The intent is to develop a standard that will be cost-effective for producers to meet while also contributing to the profitable marketing of safe healthy food by addressing risks pertaining to animal health and in some cases food safety.

Alberta Beef Producers Fly-In to Ottawa

The CCA’s lobbying activity on Parliament Hill was aided recently by four visitors from Alberta Beef Producers. Ted Ford, Bob Lowe, Doug Sawyer and Dave Solverson joined the CCA’s Ottawa point-men, John Masswohl and Ryder Lee, on May 3 to meet with a dozen Members of Parliament (MP) and the staff of Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. Meetings included Rick Casson, Kevin Sorenson, Lavar Payne, Blaine Calkins, Earl Dreeshen, Ted Menzies, Brian Storseth, Brian Jean and Tim Uppal. The group met with some non-Alberta MPs as well, including NDP Ag Critic Alex Atamanenko from B.C. and Liberal Ag Critic Wayne Easter from PEI.  

After meeting with Minister Ritz’s staff as scheduled, and while meeting MP Calkins in the Government Lobby, the group was able to get some face to face time with Minister Ritz.

Topics discussed included reducing regulatory costs facing cattle producers. There was good discussion about improving AgriRecovery by identifying triggers and responses. The Alberta drought situation was used to illustrate the shortcomings of the program and the need for a decision in the affected area.

National business risk management programs were also discussed, both the shortcomings of AgriStability and the need for AAFC to lead the analysis and development of a national price and basis insurance program for all cattle producers. The group ended the meetings with strong support for expanding market access into the EU, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, enacting the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement and for continuing the WTO cases against Korea and the U.S.

MPs appreciate hearing directly from producers on these issues. It really helps Ottawa staff with driving home the importance of the messages we deliver week after week. Ontario and Saskatchewan MPs heard similar messages in April so the momentum around our messaging continues to build.


Why some cattle shed more E. coli O157:H7 than others

Although E. coli O157:H7 does not appear to cause obvious health problems in feedlot cattle, it can cause serious illness in susceptible people. Some cattle seem to shed the bacteria for a much longer period of time than other cattle. These “persistent shedders” likely pose more of a risk of carcass or environmental contamination than “non-persistent shedders.” Understanding the factors that contribute to an animal becoming a persistent shedder will help identify practical, cost-effective ways to control the organism in production situations.

This issue was examined in a recently completed BCRC study. Click here to read more.


New Canfax analysis: Retail Margins

Are retailers getting an excessive proportion of the retail dollar? This is not a simple question to answer. First, we must be aware that the retail beef prices provided by Statistics Canada are a simple average, meaning that steak and hamburger prices are weighted equally in the average price, yet we know that ground beef represents about 46 per cent of beef sold at retail. These prices also do not take into account featuring and loss leaders resulting in their price being inflated by approximately 28 per cent.

It is also important to understand the diminishing volumes of product moving from the feedlot, to packer, to retailer. There is yield loss, shrink and unsold product at each production stage that is quite significant. There are also the operating costs, retailers get beef in a box - it takes labour (and training), equipment and materials to cut and wrap as well as transportation and storage to get beef from the wholesaler to the store shelf. Overall, a contribution margin (accounting for variable costs only) was estimated to be 20 per cent, before taxes, interest or overhead (i.e. advertising, refrigeration or any other management and building costs) in this Canfax analysis. Click here for the full report or download the 'Interpreting the Farmer's Share of the Retail Dollar' PDF.


Cattlemen can Help Raise Funds to Buy Beef for Families in Need

On June 4, 2010, the Ottawa Food Bank will hold its 6th annual Food Aid Day. The funds raised are used entirely to purchase cull cows at Ottawa area sale barns in order to distribute the beef to Ottawa Food Bank clients. The program was conceived in the darkest days of BSE as a win-win for local cattle producers and the families needing the beef.

Purchasing up to five cows a week, the Ottawa Food Bank has been a welcome bidder at the sale ring over a period in which cull cow sellers experienced depressed demand due to border closures. Between June 2005 and April 2010, the Food Bank has purchased nearly 1,100 cows and a further 190 cows were donated directly to the Food Bank by individual cattle producers. This translates to nearly 575,000 pounds of ground beef being distributed to Ottawa families since 2005.

Since the borders closed in 2003, cull cow prices have recovered from the lows in the 15 cent per pound range to the current level in the mid 50 cents, but this is still short of the 60 – 70 cents/lb received before 2003. The reality is that there are still a great many markets that have yet to resume importing beef from cattle aged over-thirty-months (OTM). At the same time, producers’ costs of feed, fuel and fertilizer have skyrocketed along with costly new regulations in effect in slaughter facilities. These factors, combined with a punishing exchange rate on the dollar, mean that cattle producers continue to be grateful for any help they can receive.

Knowing that there is a program intended to help cattle producers as well as putting healthy nutritious beef on the tables of local families is a great source of pride for the organizers of the event, which included the CCA and the Canadian Meat Council.

There are many ways to support this initiative. If you live in the Ottawa area or are visiting on June 4, you can come to the barbeque at City Hall and get a complete hamburger lunch for a $10 donation. You can also call in to the Radiothon through CFRA 580AM or visit www.theottawafoodbank.ca to make any size donation you like. Just tell them it is for “Food Aid,” the beef program.

Farmers can even donate a cow directly to the Ottawa Food Bank and receive a tax receipt for the donation. For producers in Eastern Ontario, Gary McCarty, Operations Manager for the Ottawa Food Bank is the contact for cow donations Gary@theottawafoodbank.ca. For those that don’t live near Ottawa, call your local Food Bank and ask if they have a similar program or would consider starting one. The CCA would love to see other cities adopt this initiative.


Update: Sponsor a Steak for a Returning Soldier

The BBQ at CFB Edmonton that Harvey Dann is organizing with help from the CCA has been rescheduled to Saturday, June 19 at 11 am. The event was originally to be held on July 1.

Regular readers of Action News will recall that Dann is working to repeat and expand the 2007 Petawawa BBQ of 2007. That’s when the first troop rotation came back from Afghanistan and the CCA picked up the tab for 1,700 steaks served to the returning troops of the Royal Canadian Regiment and their families at CFB Petawawa.

Dann is asking for donations to repeat the 2007 Petawawa BBQ at all of the major Canadian Forces Bases across Canada. While June’s BBQ’s at CFB Edmonton and CFB Shilo are covered, Dann still needs donations for BBQ’s planned for Val Cartier, Gagetown and Petawawa.

Interested parties can send donations to Alert Agri Distributors at 14 River Springs Drive, West St Paul, Manitoba, R4A 2A3.

CCA Action News

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

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