Volume 5 Issue 2 • June 6, 2011

In This Issue ...


House elects new speaker; Liberals appoint Ag Critic

Regina-Qu'Appelle MP Andrew Scheer, 32, is the new Speaker of the House of Commons. His election, by secret ballot, marks the first time in nearly 20 years that a Conservative has held the Speaker's chair. The Liberal Party of Canada has appointed MP Frank Valeriote as its new critic for agriculture and agri-food, rural affairs and auto policy. Valeriote, MP for Guelph since October 2008, replaces former long-term opposition agriculture critic, Wayne Easter. Easter, MP for Malpeque, was appointed international trade critic. Another appointment of importance to the cattle industry is Kirsty Duncan as Environment critic. Of course, the New Democrats have named Malcolm Allen as critic for agriculture, Robert Chisholm as critic for international trade and Megan Leslie as environment critic.


First-ever Canada-Russia Livestock Forum aimed at strengthening bilateral trade

CanFax Market BriefsSenior officials of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) attended the first ever Canada-Russia Livestock Forum in Ottawa last week. The forum, themed 'Partners in Livestock Excellence,' brings together government officials and leading business representatives to strengthen bilateral trade that benefits producers.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov renewed their commitment to build on Canada & Russia's strong ties. Since 2008, Russia's annual average imports of livestock and genetics from Canada has been worth $26 million in a potential market of $235 million.

The CCA continues its efforts to expand market access in Russia and build on progress gained in 2010, including access for some boneless over-30-month (OTM) products. Remaining work here includes getting additional facilities approved for export since Russia has not yet approved a systems approach.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration sued over non-therapeutic antimicrobial use in livestock

Several consumer and environmental activist groups sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently in an effort to force the FDA to withdraw its approval for the non-therapeutic use of penicillin and tetracyclines in animals. These groups, which include the National Resources Defense Council, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Public Citizen and the Union of Concerned Scientists, claim that "the misuse and overuse of antibiotics has given rise to a growing and dangerous trend of antibiotic resistance."  Simply stated, the concern is that if antimicrobials are used to prevent disease in livestock, bacteria that are already naturally resistant to those antimicrobials will be more likely to survive. If these resistant bacteria go on to enter the water supply or evade food safety procedures throughout the supply chain, people may become sick as a result. But does this really happen?

Although livestock are often blamed for a lot of the antimicrobial resistant pathogens encountered in human medicine, there is very little evidence to support these activists' claims. If antimicrobial use in cattle really contributed to antimicrobial resistance in human pathogens, wouldn't the feedlot staff who use veterinary antimicrobials to treat sick cattle be the first people to develop antimicrobial resistance (through their exposure to antimicrobial products) or contract antimicrobial resistant microbes through their contact with treated cattle? Fortunately, those questions have already been answered by a Canada-Alberta Beef Industry Development Fund study led by Dr. Ron Read of the University of Calgary's Department of Medicine.

What they did: In four southern Alberta feedlots, nasal and rectal swabs were collected from 2,662 cattle on arrival, after 70 days on feed, and prior to feedlot exit. These samples were examined for antimicrobial resistance in a variety of microbes. Employees who worked closely with cattle at those same feedlots provided their own nasal and rectal swabs at the beginning and end of the cattle feeding period. Samples from these 61 staff were also examined for evidence of antimicrobial resistance in a variety of microbes. Antimicrobial resistance results from these staff were compared with historical information from the Calgary Health Region. Some of the pathogens they looked for included:

Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): MRSA is found in the noses of 1-3% of healthy Canadians. It generally doesn't cause problems unless people are under-nourished or have a poor immune system. But MRSA are resistant to all antibiotics in the penicillin family, as well as many others. This means that although MRSA infections are rare, they are extremely difficult to treat. MRSA has also been isolated from retail meat samples in Canada.

Vancomycin resistant Enterococcus (VRE): Enterococci are normally found in the human digestive tract, urinary tract and the environment, and rarely cause problems in healthy people. In contrast, VRE is resistant to vancomycin, a drug of Very High Importance in human medicine. VRE causes a variety of symptoms, and is sometimes found in hospitalized people with weak immune systems or who have been treated with antibiotics for extended periods of time.

Salmonella is not ordinarily found in people or cattle. Among other things, it can cause intestinal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea; cattle can develop intestinal problems as well. In other studies, a rare strain of Salmonella that is simultaneously resistant to 10 different classes of antimicrobials has been isolated from both sick cattle and people.

Campylobacter is believed to be one of the most common causes of gastrointestinal illness in humans worldwide. It does not cause gastrointestinal disease in cattle. As usual, people who are already in poor health are the most susceptible. Contaminated water, shellfish, livestock and pets can all serve as sources of infection.

E. coli is found in the digestive tract of every warm blooded animal and human on the planet. There are many, many strains of E. coli. The vast majority are harmless, but a minority of E. coli strains can cause extreme gastrointestinal problems and worse.

What they learned:

What it means: Although feedlot staff use veterinary antimicrobials to treat and prevent disease, the prevalence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria was no higher in feedlot staff than in the population represented in Calgary Laboratory Services records. Research of this sort helps to demonstrate that responsible use of veterinary products benefits animal health and welfare without negatively impacting human health. Producers enrolled on the Canadian Cattlemen's Association's Verified Beef ProductionTM program follow industry-sanctioned practices that demonstrate that they select, use, store and dispose of antimicrobials in a responsible manner. For more information on Verified Beef Production, go to www.verifiedbeef.org or call (306) 737-2290.


Drought, fire, flood, and pestilence

A few cases of anthrax are reported in Canada every year, mainly in the west. Anthrax is a soil borne disease, so the risk of anthrax is higher when soil is disturbed. Producers in areas affected by flood or drought or where anthrax is known to occur should be aware of the symptoms, precautions and procedures associated with anthrax. Click here for more information about anthrax, what to look for and what to do. Specific CFIA recommendations for areas where anthrax is known to occur are available at http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/disemala/anthchar/20110602inde.shtml.


Canada's role in achieving animal health disease eradication milestone

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) recently announced the global eradication of rinderpest or cattle plague, a highly contagious viral disease affecting mainly cattle and water buffalo. Rinderpest is the first animal health disease to be eradicated by humankind. A reportable disease under Canada's Health of Animals Act, rinderpest is known throughout history for decimating herds in Europe, Africa and Asia and resulting in widespread human famines. Although Canada's animal population has never been afflicted by rinderpest, Canada's contribution to controlling rinderpest through research on the virus reaches back decades.

Dr. Brian Evans, Canada's Chief Veterinary Officer and Chief Food Safety Officer, said Canada's laboratory system plays a crucial role in controlling animal health diseases like rinderpest. Canada is home to 18 OIE or international reference laboratories for a number of animal diseases. The rinderpest virus has been contained in Canada's laboratory bio-containment processes for a number of years, enabling much research.

"The work of Canada in terms of both test validations, diagnostic methods, research on this virus and the ability to have the virus in a containment circumstance for training of Canadian veterinarians for disease recognition and extrapolating that training to other countries has been instrumental in helping the world get to this point," Evans said from Paris, where he was attending OIE meetings.

Evans said records and reports of epidemics of this "scourge of the animal production industry" predate 367 BC. Rinderpest does not infect humans but the disease creates catastrophic conditions for people because it wipes out livestock relied on for both food and agricultural production. In the 1900 century, rinderpest travelled to Africa and was attributed to wiping out about one-third of the human population in Ethiopia alone. In 1920, an outbreak in Belgium and the subsequent devastation it brought prompted international efforts to control animal diseases and led to creation of the original OIE in 1924. The OIE declared all 198 countries and territories with rinderpest-susceptible animals in the world free of the disease on May 25, 2011.


Producers reminded to get their 2011 Census of Agriculture in

A lot can happen in five years. Farmers can help to create an up-to-date picture of agriculture in Canada by completing and returning the Census of Agriculture questionnaire. The data "snapshot" captured by the Census of Agriculture every five years highlights trends and new developments in agriculture. If you haven't already done so, please fill out the questionnaire on paper and mail it back in the prepaid envelope or take advantage of the internet application.

The farm industry, as a whole, benefits from census data in many ways. For example, agricultural producer groups are guided by data from the census when informing their membership about industry trends and developments; putting operators' viewpoints before legislators and the Canadian public; and defending their interests in international trade negotiations. Governments use census data to make decisions about crop insurance, agricultural credit policies, transportation, market services and international trade. Census information also helps other businesses market their products and services to farm operators and is a valuable tool when making production and investment decisions.

For more information on the 2011 Census of Agriculture, visit http://www.statcan.gc.ca/ca-ra2011/index-eng.htm or contact Erik Dorff by telephone at 613-951-2818 or by e-mail at Erik.Dorff@statcan.gc.ca.

CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: Ryder Lee, Reynold Bergen, Andrea Brocklebank
Written, edited and compiled by: Gina Teel and Tracy Sakatch

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

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