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Technical Agreement with South Korea puts the focus on Canada-Korea FTA
It's been a week since Canada announced the science-based technical agreement with South Korea toward restoring market access for Canadian beef. While Korea has several procedural steps to complete before Canadian exports of under-30-month beef can flow later this year, once implemented the agreement for commercially viable market access will help put producers back on stable ground for the first time in nearly a decade.
Every market access gain is another step toward stability for Canada's beef cattle industry. South Korea in particular is a lucrative market for Canadian beef and demand there helps to optimize the value of each animal.
"People look at the agreement as being a good thing but nobody really understands the magnitude of getting into a market like South Korea, where it allows us to part out those pieces of the animal that adds so much value," said Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) Vice-President Martin Unrau. "It's another step in that value-adding that helps us move back to true profitability and stability."
Announced by Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast, the breakthrough agreement represents $30 million by 2015 for the Canadian beef industry, according to the Canada Beef Export Federation. The agreement – reached outside of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Panel proceedings - is significant also as it marks the return of Canadian beef to all major Asian markets; South Korea is the last of these key markets to maintain a trade ban imposed eight years ago.
With South Korea working to resolve market access issues, finalizing the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has become a high priority for the CCA. Moving towards a beneficial FTA that will help both sides in this issue is the intent, Unrau said.
A Canada-Korea FTA would help Korea, which imports more than 70 per cent of its food, feed its population of 48 million and provide Canada with another consumer for its agricultural products including beef. The Canada-South Korea FTA is worth $750 million overall to Canadian agricultural producers.
Canada and South Korea launched negotiations towards an FTA in 2005. Talks ceased in March 2008 due to challenges in a number of areas including agriculture. In the interim, South Korea signed FTAs with several countries, including the European Union and the United States, both direct competitors with Canada.
Korea maintains a 40 per cent tariff on beef products. Under the Korea-U.S. FTA, Korea will phase out beef tariffs for U.S. exporters over 15 years. A Canada-Korea FTA and the elimination of BSE restrictions could drive $190 million in Canadian beef exports and give Canada an advantage over competitors like Mexico, New Zealand and Australia which are also negotiating FTA's with Korea.
The CCA will continue to urge the Government of Canada to act quickly to resume FTA negotiations with South Korea.
BIXS launched to cow-calf producers
The Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS) has begun a phased launch process to cow-calf producers. The first of three launch stages will see a limited number of beef producers invited to register, log-on and submit their individual animal data to BIXS. This strategic approach provides the opportunity to test system functionality in real-time and identify and address any technical issues that may arise, prior to a large-scale roll-out of the system this fall.
"It's important for us to take small steps out of the gate so we don't have issues impacting potentially hundreds or thousands of BIXS users," said Larry Thomas, BIXS National Coordinator. "While we anticipate some hiccups, we also have the ability to move pretty quickly through the launch phases if things go well. Our goal remains to have the system rolled out to cow-calf producers across Canada by the fall calf run."
Having specific individual animal data like vaccination date and product used, castration and dehorn date and, in time, historical carcass data on a herd basis displayed in near real-time prior to and during sales at auction markets is one example of how BIXS could benefit program participants. BIXS, a national voluntary program, will also validate animal birthdates against CCIA records.
The CCA is developing tools within BIXS specific to the auction market segment of the industry. Tentative tools include the ability to access the query function within BIXS to provide strategic messaging on pending sales/events to producers with specific animals and protocols and in specified geographical areas.
Work also continues on the development of a feedlot interface with BIXS. As well, the CCA continues to work with Canadian slaughter plants to implement carcass tracking and computer vision grading solutions. For more information and news updates visit: www.bixs.cattle.ca
Funding for this project has been provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Agricultural Flexibility Fund. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is committed to working with industry partners. Opinions expressed in this document are those of the BIXS and not necessarily those of AAFC.
The CCA in action – Animal Care
The CCA represents the Canadian beef cattle industry on many levels. Our participation in affiliated industry groups enables the CCA to provide input into important initiatives which affect the industry and to clearly articulate our position on issues to a broad audience. On the important issue of animal care, the CCA's involvement with the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) enables the CCA to better understand (and be understood by) animal welfare groups, veterinarians, retail, restaurants and food service, provincial governments, enforcement bodies and other animal production groups. This two-way communication extends to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada who regularly sit in on NFACC meetings.
The mandate of the NFACC is to provide a national coordinated approach, promoting responsible farm animal care. Through an inclusive approach, involving the entire value chain, NFACC works to build processes that facilitate Canada's agriculture industries in addressing farm animal care. The Council works on a consensus model, so that any decisions made have the weight and support of its membership as a whole, which provide realistic and lasting improvements to farm animal care.
The organization brings a broad spectrum of groups together to share information. Efforts are made to bring real progress on responsible farm animal care, while helping to ensure animal agriculture is viable in a climate of increasing market demands.
The Council is unique in the world. Most countries either have government mandated and controlled animal welfare standards bodies or work on an ad-hoc basis to bring producers and other stakeholders together.
Ryder Lee, the CCA's Animal Care Committee staff person, said detailed information on the activities and outlook of other commodity groups, government expectations, restaurant or retail customers' opinions, animal welfare groups' views and international developments is provided at NFACC meetings. Without NFACC participation, the CCA would be hard-pressed to gather this level of information or to have a meaningful relationship with these important groups, he said. "As issues develop, NFACC proves to be a strategic investment that helps the CCA foresee, handle and adapt to emerging animal care challenges," Lee said.
NFACC is also involved in updating the Code of Practice for Beef Cattle. The Code renewal was initiated in September 2010 and is scheduled to be completed in spring 2013. NFACC's priority welfare issues for the update include: painful procedures (methods and age for branding, castration, dehorning), feedlot health and morbidity (respiratory disease, lameness, nutritional diseases including acidosis, laminitis and liver abscesses), environmental and housing conditions for animals (mud effects on health and welfare, what is acceptable shelter in extreme weather conditions) and weaning strategies.
Other welfare topics for the species will be covered by the Code Development Committee. The priority welfare issue list is comprised of issues that would particularly benefit from a review of the available scientific evidence.
The NFACC Code of Practice updates initiated from 2010 to 2013 are part of the project: Addressing Domestic and International Market Expectations Relative to Farm Animal Welfare. This project was made possible through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Agri-Flexibility program funding.
For more information, please visit: http://www.nfacc.ca/codes-of-practice/beef-cattle