Volume 5 Issue 5 • July 18, 2011

In This Issue ...


CCA brings priorities for agriculture to FPT meeting

Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) President Travis Toews and Manager of Federal Provincial Relations Ryder Lee attended the annual summer meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) Ministers of Agriculture in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick on July 6th.

During a roundtable discussion the CCA made clear the three priorities for agriculture in Canada need to be creating value for producers, improving the competitiveness of our regulatory environment and becoming a world leader in market access. The CCA also stressed the need to improve on research at both levels of government.

The challenge for the Ministers in formulating the replacement for Growing Forward will be to bring some national uniformity to important policy areas. Food safety, environment, animal health and care and business risk management are the basis of Canada's reputation and competitiveness. A fragmented approach to these crucial areas does not serve producers well.

The roundtable was followed by a reception. The CCA took the opportunity to discuss several important issues with all the Ag Ministers and Deputy Ministers present. These included the flooding in Manitoba and the responses there both short-term and long-term, the opportunity presented by the Canada-EU trade talks, and the potential next steps once the World Trade Organization's (WTO) ruling on mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is made public.

See the joint FPT "Saint Andrews Statement" here and CCA's response here.  Of note, Ontario did not sign on with the rest of the governments due to a lack of federal support for Ontario's Risk Management Program and due to apparent potential cuts to AgriStability.  Minister Carol Mitchell's statement can be found here.


The U.S. debt ceiling and you

The political wrangling in the U.S. over the issue of raising the debt ceiling to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debt – and thereby spare the flagging U.S. economy and global financial markets from a potential meltdown – has raised questions about the impact to Canada's economy should the Democrats and Republicans fail to reach a deal by August 2.

CanFax Market BriefsU.S. President Barack Obama has repeatedly warned of the consequences of Congress not reaching a deal to raise the US$14.3 trillion debt ceiling by August 2, the date the U.S. Treasury is set to run out of funds and default on its debt. In practical human terms, a deal to raise the debt ceiling means the U.S. government can pay its debt obligations. No deal means the U.S. government will default on its debt and potentially not be in a position to pay even social security cheques, veterans' cheques and disability benefits.

As well, Moody's Investors Service last week placed the Aaa bond rating of the U.S. Government on review for a possible downgrade citing "the rising possibility that the statutory debt limit will not be raised on a timely basis, leading to a default on US Treasury debt obligations in coming weeks," stated Moody's July 13 release.

According to Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist, Vice President, BMO Capital Markets Economic Research, if a deal to raise the debt ceiling isn't reached and the U.S. defaults, then its credit rating would be cut, causing borrowing costs to rise and equity markets to plunge. The financial market turmoil, coupled with a loss of consumer and business confidence, would raise the risks of a U.S. recession. "In the event, Canada's economy likely also will contract. Commodity prices will fall, further undermining growth in the resource-producing provinces. The Bank of Canada would reduce interest rates toward zero, and the Canadian dollar would fall in value against the U.S. dollar," he wrote in an email.

Higher borrowing costs and uncertainty in financial markets are obviously negative for agriculture and the beef and cattle industries, added BMO senior economist Kenrick Jordan. "Moreover, weaker growth in the U.S. and Canadian economies can be expected to lead to reduced demand for meat, which is quite sensitive to changes in income.  While feed grain costs may fall, this would be 'cold comfort' for the livestock sector if the demand is not there," he noted in an email.

Of course the possibility still exists that the two sides will strike an agreement as the August 2 deadline looms. Dan Sumner, economist with ATB, said it's often the case that agreements to issues like this are reached at the eleventh hour. "I think there's still a decent chance an agreement will be reached," he said.


Canadian Animal Health Coalition and the National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Council

The CCA represents the Canadian beef cattle industry on many levels. Participation in affiliated industry groups enables the CCA to provide input into important initiatives which affect the industry and to clearly articulate the industry's position on these issues to a broad audience.

The CCA's involvement in the Canadian Animal Health Coalition (CAHC) provides an opportunity to be a part of policy development and recommendations around the important issue of animal health.

The CAHC is a partnership of organizations that recognize the shared responsibility for an effective Canadian animal health system. The coalition provides Canada's farmed animal industry a forum to build consensus, share information, provide expertise and project management regarding the future of Canada's food animal industry in respect to animal health concerns.

The CAHC was developed in the early 2000s when industry identified the need for a more engaging forum for livestock groups interested in animal health and welfare than what was available. Then-CCA director Carl Block sat as the first chair for the Coalition. The CAHC has gone on to play many important roles.

For example, when the Council of Chief Veterinary Officers of Canada was charged with developing a National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Strategy in partnership with the Canadian farmed animal industry, the CAHC facilitated regular stakeholder updates with participating industry representatives.

Completed in 2009, the National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Strategy (NFAHW Strategy), is comprised of two major parts. The first is focused on surveillance, enhancing detection and diagnostics of foreign animal diseases, enhancing response to emergencies (ensuring all necessary resources are readily available to contain and control disease), biosecurity and codes of practice. The second piece is focused on governance, which led to the development of the National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Council (NFAHW Council).

NFAHW Council

The NFAHW Council acts as an advisory council to the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Regulatory Assistant Deputy Ministers of Agriculture and is supported by federal and provincial governments and non-government stakeholders.  The council's mandate is to implement the NFAHW Strategy, which recognizes the shared responsibility of government and industry in animal health issues. As noted by CCA staff Rob McNabb, "the council's purpose is not to make decisions, but provide well thought-out advice to enhance animal health and welfare to government and industry."

The CCA's involvement in development of strategy was important. In the event of an animal disease incident, both industry and government must be able to respond rapidly as this will impact how quickly Canada is able to regain the market access the industry is dependent upon. "A key part of the council is the collaboration of all stakeholders representing both the public consumer and livestock production sides," McNabb said. For more information go to: http://www.animalhealth.ca


Home on the range

The CCA provided financial support for the 2011 revision of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's "Management of Canadian Prairie Rangeland" publication. This book updates information from the 1982 edition based on research carried out by federal, provincial and university researchers throughout Western Canada. Focused on native range, this publication covers a wide variety of topics, including grazing intensity, season of grazing, grazing systems, riparian areas, weed control, reclamation, management during drought and ecological goods and services. Click here to view or print a copy of this 68 page book.

CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: Ryder Lee, Brenna Grant, Reynold Bergen
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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