Volume 5 Issue 3 • June 20, 2011

In This Issue ...

 

Government Ag Committee has 12 members, five from Western Canada


The Government of Canada's Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food for Parliament's 41st session is comprised of 12 members, the same number as the previous Parliament. That's where the similarities end, however, with half of the members new to the committee. The committee is comprised of seven Conservative members, four NDP, and one Liberal. Committee veterans include Conservatives Randy Hoback (SK), Pierre Lemieux (ON), Larry Miller (ON) and Brian Sorseth (AB). Joining them will be Ben Lobb (ON), LaVar Payne (AB) and Bob Zimmer (B.C.). Returning for the NDP is Alex Atamanenko (B.C.), joined by Ag critic Malcom Allen (ON), Francine Raynault (QC) and Jean Rousseau (QC). Also returning to the committee is Frank Valeriote (ON), the Liberal Ag critic.

 

Mission to France and Spain makes headway


CanFax Market BriefsStrengthening relationships with cattle producer organizations in France and Spain and differentiating Canadian cattle production and beef exports from South America were the main objectives of an outreach mission recently completed by the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) and the Canadian Beef Breeds Council (CBBC).

The mission, which ran from May 30 to June 4, 2011, was held in support of improved Canada-European Union (EU) cattle and beef trade. The CCA's Vice-President Martin Unrau and Director of Government and International Affairs John Masswohl, and the CBBC's Technical Services Coordinator, Mauricio Arcila took every opportunity to communicate Canada's desire to have more trade with Europe during the nearly week-long mission.

The trip followed Canada's recently gained access to the new 20,000 tonne duty-free quota for high quality grain-fed beef shared with the U.S. and Australia. The mission was undertaken with the expectation that further access should come from the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), improved technical conditions and the eventual removal of BSE restrictions on EU exports.

As such, the team sought to strengthen Canada's relationship with French cattle producer organizations and establish a relationship with Spanish cattle producer organizations; and to differentiate Canadian cattle production and beef exports from South America. These organizations view EU imports of Brazilian beef as a threat and have actively lobbied against trade agreements that would improve access for Mercosur members to the EU.

CCA Vice-President Martin Unrau checks out a herd of Avilena-Negra Iberica cattle on a mountain pasture in Spain. Photo credit: John Masswohl.

Unrau said the team made some headway, particularly in differentiating Canada from South America. He was pleased that both countries welcomed the initiative to have closer relations.

"We wouldn't say we won them over to our side as champions for further trade, but they did acknowledge the differentiation between Canada and South America," Unrau said. "Also acknowledged was the fact that Canada shares many of these challenges and that we are better off having a strong relationship and continued discussions."

In France, the primary contact was with Interbev, an umbrella organization encompassing the cattle producer organization and the various processing organizations. The team also met with the president and vice-president of the Fédération Nationale Bovine (FNB), which is the beef cattle producers' organization.  In Spain, they met with representatives of the Asociacion Española de Productores de Vacuno de Carne (ASOPROVAC), the beef cattle producers' organization, and Feagas, the cattle breeds association.
Visits in both countries offered the opportunity for conference room sessions where the team exchanged information through PowerPoint presentations followed by discussion and field visits, as well as discussion during social/dinner events. This combination of activities provided ample opportunity to reinforce information and to allow for some bonding.

FNB President Pierre Chevalier noted in a speech that there are many challenges for French and European beef producers and they view an increase in imports to be very challenging for them. The Spanish representatives of ASOPROVAC and Feagas delivered similar messages.  Nevertheless, the Canadian team pressed ahead in ensuring they understood our desire to have more trade with Europe and that Canada cannot accept being lumped in the same threat category with South America.

Believing that the door is open for further contact, the team invited its French and Spanish counterparts to come to Canada and suggested the possibility of organizing a trip around the 2012 Calgary Stampede. The offer was received with interest. The team believes the mission was a worthwhile effort and that outreach to other significant EU beef producing countries, particularly Ireland and the UK, should continue.

 

Origins of E.coli O104:H4 unclear - researchers


The tragic outbreak of E. coli O104:H4 in Germany has caused 40 deaths and sickened more than 3,200 people. Vegetable sprouts from an organic farm in northern Germany have been identified as the source of the infection. It remained unclear at press time exactly how the sprouts became contaminated with the bacteria.

Only a few cases of E. coli O104:H4 have ever been reported in humans anywhere in the world, and E. coli O104:H4 has never been reported in any animals or meat. Although the ongoing investigation has not implicated livestock as the source of the contamination underlying the German outbreak, some media reports have attributed the E. coli outbreak in Germany to run-off from feedlots and/or the overuse of antimicrobials in livestock.

It is not clear where E. coli O104:H4 originated. This strain has some characteristics that differ from cattle strains, and may have characteristics that are similar to human strains. Researchers in China and Germany have found that E. coli O104:H4 is missing a DNA sequence that codes for intimin. According to Dr. Tim McAllister, an E. coli expert at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Lethbridge Research Station, intimin is a protein that helps some harmful E. coli strains attach to the intestine. Intimin is so common in cattle E. coli strains that it is used to help decide whether human cases of E. coli illness originated from cattle. The fact that E. coli O104:H4 does not carry the intimin gene suggests that E. coli O104:H4 may not have originated in cattle. German researchers have also been quoted as saying that E. coli O104:H4 has characteristics of an "aggregative" strain which causes non-fatal diarrhea in humans. Aggregative E. coli strains have never been found in animals, leading some researchers to suspect that E. coli O104:H4 may be a human strain that acquired virulence factors from another strain. It's possible that we never will know for sure how or where E. coli O104:H4 originated. (Update: Health officials in Germany have confirmed the first case of human-to-human spread of the E.Coli bacterium responsible for the German outbreak.)

On the farm: Regardless of the source of the current outbreak, it is important to remember the considerable time and money the beef industry has invested into research projects with the goal of reducing and controlling the spread of pathogens in cattle, beef and the environment. Many beef producers have developed and adopted on-farm manure management plans that include procedures to keep manure away from water supplies.

At the plant: Canadian meat processors have developed internationally recognized systems known as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) plans to control E.coli 0157:H7 and other foodborne bacteria. These plans identify potential food safety hazards and monitor the most important production steps (critical points) to ensure these hazards are controlled before the product is sent to market. These processes include treating beef carcasses with steam or hot water, as well as microbiological testing of ground beef products. All processors which operate under the supervision of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) must develop food safety plans which target E.coli 0157:H7.  These same plans would work for other strains of E.coli

Research supported by the Beef Cluster continues to investigate new ways to reduce the levels of E. coli and other harmful bacteria in beef through trim sprays (two projects) and E-beam treatment, as well as training the next generation of food safety researchers.

In the home: The Beef Information Centre is actively involved in efforts to educate consumers about safe food storage, handling, preparation and cooking methods in the home.

Antimicrobial resistance: Some media attention has focused on the antimicrobial resistance profile of the E. coli O104:H4 strain involved in the German outbreak. Research veterinarians, medical professionals, university professionals, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers and the Public Health Agency of Canada have done numerous studies on antimicrobial resistance since the late 1990's.

These studies have repeatedly shown that resistance to antimicrobials that are very important in human medicine is extremely rare in beef cattle, and there is no evidence that this resistance is increasing. There is also no evidence that farm workers who administer antimicrobial products when caring for unhealthy animals are at increased risk of developing antimicrobial resistance. The beef industry is also actively supporting the Public Health Agency of Canada's efforts to monitor antimicrobial use and resistance at the farm level, in sick animals and at the packing plant level.

Health Canada's Veterinary Drug Directorate (VDD) evaluates and monitors the safety, quality, effectiveness, standards and prudent use of veterinary drugs used in livestock. The CCA has also developed an on-farm food safety program to promote responsible use of these products. Beef producers enrolled on the Verified Beef Production™ program follow industry-sanctioned practices that demonstrate that they select, use, store and dispose of antimicrobial products in a responsible manner.

The stewardship of antibiotics in beef cattle in Canada is the topic of a key session in the Antimicrobial Stewardship in Canadian Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine conference this fall. The CCA's Dr. Reynold Bergen will discuss the issue of antimicrobial stewardship from the perspective of the industry in Canada as part of a session on beef cattle. This important conference will feature some of the most current research in antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial stewardship presented by some of the leading researchers in the field in North America. For more information, visit: http://antimicrobialcanada.com/

 

Update: Ottawa Food Bank's Food Aid Day


Lowell Green of 580 CFRA, CCA's Ryder Lee, Canadian Meat Council Executive Director James Laws and Ontario Cattlemen's Association director Rick Hobbs (l-r) on-air during the radiothon. Photo credit: Rob Tomaso

The seventh annual Food Aid Day raised nearly $116,000 to support the Ottawa Food Bank's Food Aid program, an increase of more than $15,000 over last year. This year's event, traditionally held at Ottawa City Hall, added a second location at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada building.

Funds were raised by selling more than 2,100 beef burgers and through a live broadcast radiothon. The radiothon collected more than $8,000 and the donation of a cow from generous callers. Every dollar donated to Food Aid is used to buy and process beef from local farmers to benefit Ottawa Food Bank clients.

Since 2005, Ontario cattle producers have donated 192 cows to the program. Through funds raised, the Food Bank program has also purchased 1,294 cows. More than 627,000 pounds of ground beef have been distributed to Ottawa families, food banks and shelters.

The CCA encourages food banks across the country to adopt a similar program, which adds nutritious protein to the diets of families in need while supporting the local farming community.

 

Plan to attend the 2011 CCA Semi-Annual Meeting and International Livestock Congress


The 2011 CCA Semi-Annual Meeting runs August 9-12 in Calgary and is the place to be informed about the Canadian beef cattle industry.

The CCA national convention has partnered again with the International Livestock Congress (ILC), set to run Wednesday, August 10. This conference provides participants with an unmatched single-day perspective on current complex forces at work in the beef industry, as well as an update on international economics, global demand and how Canada is perceived in the world market. Visit www.ilccalgary.com for more information on the speakers and to register.

Following the conference, join us that evening for a barbeque at The Ranche, a historic ranch house in the peaceful setting of Fish Creek Park, which will feature a live auction to benefit 4-H. To donate an item to this important fundraising event, click to download the donation form and auction FAQ.

The CCA committee meetings will be held August 9 and 11. These committees are structured to deal with key issues affecting our industry, such as animal health and meat inspection, environmental issues, animal care, foreign trade, domestic agriculture policy and regulation, and how to add value and increase competitiveness within the Canadian beef industry. Guests are welcome to observe.

Be sure take advantage of the excellent networking opportunities during the week, with events like the golf tournament at Calgary's HeatherGlen golf course or the tour to Banff on the afternoon of August 11. Download the week's agenda and registration forms here.

Questions? Contact the CCA office at 403.275.8558, ext. 405 or email jenkinsp@cattle.ca. See you in August!

 

Avoiding STD's


Trichomoniasis and vibrio are a pair of venereal diseases that cause abortions, low pregnancy rates and delayed or prolonged calving seasons. These diseases are present throughout the world, and can have severe economic costs for cow calf producers. Appropriate management of the breeding herd can help to prevent and control these diseases. Click here to learn more: http://www.cattle.ca/media/file/original/982_Avoiding_STDs.pdf

 
CCA Action News

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



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