Volume 3 Issue 1 • June 21, 2010

In This Issue ...


U.S. Removes Supplementary Brucellosis Requirements Following CFIA Investigation

Nearly a week after a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) investigation confirmed there is no brucellosis in B.C., the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) removed the temporary import restrictions it had placed on sexually intact cattle and bison that have resided in British Columbia since March 25, 2010.

Canfax Market BriefsThe USDA imposed the temporary import restrictions in late May after samples taken from three head of cattle from two B.C. farms during routine slaughter testing at a U.S. facility were classified as ‘reactors’ for brucellosis. A subsequent investigation by the CFIA, which included more specific testing of the original USDA samples at the CFIA’s world reference lab for brucellosis in Ottawa and on-farm investigation, confirmed there is no brucellosis in B.C. The USDA removed the restrictions on June 15.

Krista Howden, epidemiologist and scientific advisor with the CFIA, said the combination of the on-farm investigation and the investigation at the world reference lab found no evidence of brucellosis.

Further laboratory analysis by the CFIA of the samples from the USDA found that the original suspicious test reactions observed in the U.S. appear to have been caused by another bacterium known to create false-positive test results. Canada’s traceability system led to a speedy conclusion on the on-farm investigation side.

“In addition to doing the laboratory side of things, we were able to go back to those farms of origin through the CCIA (Canadian Cattle Identification Agency) tags and do an on farm investigation as well,” she said.

“The on-farm investigation was done really quite rapidly and with good cooperation with the producers. They were able to provide records and information so all that testing could be done in a pretty timely fashion,” Howden said.

The CFIA was able to put that information in a report and report back to the USDA, which was comfortable with the assessment and removed the restrictions.

Brucellosis was eradicated from Canada in the mid-1980s. Canada was officially recognized as brucellosis free in 1985.


The Maple Leaf and RFID Tags

Canada Day used to mean one thing: a much anticipated day off. But this year July 1 has a double entendre for cattle producers, as it’s the official date all cattle must be tagged with an approved Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag prior to moving from their current location or leaving their farm of origin.

The RFID tags replace bar-coded dangle tags, which will be de-listed the same day. The regulation also prohibits the application of existing dangle tag inventory to animals after July 1, enabling Canada’s traceability initiatives to move forward with a clean slate.

Unlike the initial Jan. 1, 2010 target date set for de-listing, the July 1 deadline is firm.

“All levels of government have signed off on this; this is the date,” said Darcy Eddleston, chair of the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA).

Taking advantage of balmy weather was just a lucky outcome of the six-month delay to de-list bar-coded tags, which came as a result of a decision by the CFIA. Eddleston said the extra time was required to finalize regulatory details with the CFIA.

The basic rules around de-listing still stand: Producers should leave existing affixed bar-coded tags on the ear and apply an RFID tag to the same animal, provided they cross-reference the new RFID tag with the existing dangle tag in the Canadian Livestock Tracking System to retain the tag data. Producers requiring assistance with cross-referencing can contact the CCIA office, Eddleston said.


Trade Issue Update

The formal aspect of the WTO case against Korea’s ban on Canadian beef has evolved little since we reported oral arguments had taken place in mid April. Since that time, the focus of both Canada and Korea has been to prepare written answers to questions posed by the panel. We are still anticipating that the panel will be seeking appropriate scientific experts to appear for questioning, but there have been no further details on this. Informally, however, there seem to be increasing signals from Korea that they would like to reach a negotiated settlement without having the WTO panel proceed all the way to a decision. The CCA has informed the Canadian Government that we support a negotiated settlement and would be willing to suspend the WTO case once commercially meaningful access exists.   

The Canada-Mexico joint WTO panel against U.S. Country of Origin Labelling has advanced since our last Action News trade update. In mid-May, the WTO Secretary General named trade experts from Switzerland, Pakistan and Portugal to form the panel that would hear arguments and rule on the dispute. Once the panellists were named, a timetable was established with Canada and Mexico making their written submissions by June 23. The United States will have until August 4 to respond and oral arguments will be mid September. The CCA has met several times with the Canadian Government team and the Canadian Pork Council to develop and refine arguments and our legal counsel has been in near constant contact with the Canadian Government lawyers. In all, we believe that the Canadian submission will present a very compelling argument to the panel.

With respect to normalization of two-way beef trade between Canada and Mexico, we believe both sides are making progress. The CFIA completed inspections of Mexican beef export facilities in early May and is expected to report its findings by mid-July. Meanwhile the Mexican Government has received all the risk assessment information regarding OTM trade from Canada and has committed to hold a follow-up meeting with Canadian officials before the end of June.  The CCA President Travis Toews, Vice-President Martin Unrau and staff John Masswohl met with Mexican cattle industry leaders in early June to ensure they are being as supportive of this two-way trade from their side as the CCA is being from its side. After the meetings, the CCA was given assurances that the Mexican industry is very interested in supporting normalized two-way beef trade.

The Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement passed third reading by the House of Commons on June 14.  The Conservatives and the Liberals came together to vote in favour of the Agreement in the House, while the NDP and BQ both voted against.  The bill was transmitted to the Senate where it was read twice by June 16, reviewed by the Senate International Trade Committee on June 17 and was reported back to the full Senate later that same day.  At the time of this writing, the bill was scheduled for third reading in the Senate on June 21 and then Royal Assent shortly afterward. After the bill receives Royal Assent in Canada, we will turn our attention to the process for the Colombians to implement their domestic legislation.

The Canada-Europe Comprehensive Trade Negotiations are continuing with the fourth negotiating round taking place in Brussels during the week of July 12. The Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, headed by former CCA President Stan Eby, will be present during that session to maintain the visibility of the Canadian agricultural sector and will continue to underscore the importance of an ambitious outcome for the sector. 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.  When it comes down to the final negotiating session, which will include bargaining the hard items like beef tariffs, it will be very important for the Canadian Government to have no doubt that beef producers have high expectations for this agreement.

On Japan, the CCA continues to place a high priority on getting the current access expanded to cover all beef from cattle under 30 months, but this outcome remains elusive. Not helping the situation, on June 2 the Japanese Prime Minister resigned (for reasons unrelated to agriculture) which also caused a change at Agriculture Minister. Furthermore, Japan is currently dealing with a very serious outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease as its top priority agriculture issue. 

Nevertheless, a series of government to government meetings are planned within the coming weeks including at the officials’ level right up to the Leaders’ level with Prime Minister Harper hosting the Japanese Prime Minister at the upcoming G8 and G20 meetings in Ontario. The CCA met with Prime Minister Harper in the spring to request his personal intervention with Japan and we are anticipating he will stress the importance of expanded beef access to his counterpart at the upcoming meetings.


Barbequed Health Food

Any doubts that there is widespread consumer interest in ‘healthy’ fats and ‘bad’ fats can be put to rest by trying to count the number of omega-3 enriched and trans-fat free products in the nearest grocery store. The potential health attributes of dietary fatty acids, such as saturated, mono- and poly-unsaturates, trans-fats, omega-3’s, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), has led to considerable media focus, consumer confusion, marketing opportunities for food companies, and very strong recommendations from the Federal Minister of Health.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers were funded by the Beef Cattle Research Council to investigate whether modified feedlot diets could change the trans-fat content of beef. To read what they learned, click here.


Canadian Beef Quality Symposium

Heading to Calgary for the Stampede? Plan to arrive a day early and take in the latest research results related to animal health, genetics, feeding, growth promotants and their influence on beef quality at the Canadian Beef Quality Symposium, July 8.

Held at the Sheraton Cavalier, Calgary, the symposium features presentations from a dozen industry and academic experts. Participants will also get an update on the planned implementation of computer vision grading in Canada. Click here to download the registration form for the symposium.

CCA Action News

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

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