Volume 5 Issue 7 • August 15, 2011

In This Issue ...


A big day for Canada-Colombia FTA

The Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement comes into effect today, and the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) was in Bogota, Colombia to mark this important event.

CCA President Travis Toews accompanied Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Bogota to support the launching of the FTA.

CanFax Market BriefsThe implementation of this agreement is the final step required to enable Canada's beef sector to access the growing Colombian beef market. The Canada-Colombia FTA will immediately provide duty-free access for up to 5,250 tonnes per year of Canadian beef and offals. The remaining tariff will be eliminated over a 12-year period. With the FTA in place, the potential for Canadian beef exports to Colombia annually could exceed $20 million.

While Colombia lifted its BSE-related technical barriers to Canadian beef and breeding cattle in early 2010, the 80 per-cent import duty remained as a formidable trade barrier, noted Toews.

"I wish to thank the Prime Minister for the importance he places on opening markets for Canadian beef and I encourage him to keep up the good work on behalf of Canada's beef ranchers," he said.

The Prime Minister's trade mission included a visit to Costa Rica where he announced that Canada and Costa Rica will commence negotiations to modernize the Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement.  The current agreement with Costa Rica came into effect in 2002.  Unfortunately, access for Canadian beef to Costa Rica was excluded from the 2002 agreement and the 15 per cent tariff has remained in effect since that time.

The potential to export Canadian beef to Costa Rica may be small, in the neighbourhood of $250,000 annually, but it is unacceptable to have beef remain excluded entirely from any agreement.  The CCA wants this omission to be corrected.

In another positive trade development, the Government of Canada on Sunday announced a market access agreement with Vietnam that allows for the immediate export of live breeding cattle.

The agreement provides Canadian producers of live breeding cattle, goats and sheep access to the Vietnamese market for the first time since 2003. The Vietnamese market is worth up to $50 million.


The Weedon Ranch TESA recipient for 2011

Congratulations to Brian and Glenys Weedon of Weedon Ranch, the 2011 recipient of The Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA).  A national award presented by the CCA, TESA recognizes innovative sustainable management practices and stewardship initiatives that ensure a sustainable future for the beef cattle industry.

The Weedons received their award last week during the annual TESA event at the CCA semi-annual meeting and International Livestock Congress event in Calgary.

One of four Canadian farm families nominated for the 2011 award, the Weedons were selected as they exemplify the ability to work successfully within a unique ecosystem, said Lynn Grant, Chair of the CCA's Environment Committee.

CCA Environment Committee Chair Lynn Grant (L) with the 2011 TESA recipients, Brian and Glenys Weedon of Weedon Ranch. Photo credit: Larry Thomas.

Accepting the award, Brian Weedon said it was great honour to be recognized by his peers for doing something positive.

"This is a tremendous honour for us and a humbling experience all at the same time," he said.

"Over the last 20 or 30 years, driving around our area in Western Canada, I think what we're doing on our ranch at one time might have been considered the exception but I believe now it is the norm."

About Weedon Ranch: The Weedon Ranch encompasses approximately 11,500 acres of native prairie range and 1,920 acres of tame grass in the dry brown soil zone of Saskatchewn. Located near Swift Current, the ranch is mostly in a sandhill ecosystem, making water and grass management a priority.

Black Angus is the breed of choice at the Weedons cow-calf/backgrounding operation, as the couple finds them best-suited for their management approach and the ecosystem they operate in.

As potable surface water is scarce, the Weedons are reliant on the ranch's high water table, which is very potable. They have developed and implemented a watering system that is efficient and reliable and allows the ranch to utilize its grazing resources.

The surface water situation is remedied through the installation of shallow buried water pipelines, water stations, windmills and dugouts. The water facilities are strategically located for maximum range utilization and the dugouts act as a backup for the other systems.

Cross fencing to accommodate grazing strategies, including deferred grazing of all native pasture and switchback grazing, along with balanced stocking rates, have resulted in a healthier range.

The Weedons have hosted field days and educational tours examining management protocols on Canada's rangelands, range plant identification, range assessment and biodiversity observations.

In 2003 Weedon Ranch was one of the first operations to meet the criteria to be enrolled in the Quality Starts Here/Verified Beef Production Program.

The CCA has recognized the outstanding efforts of innovative cattle producers with TESA since 1996.


Verified Beef Production™ Update

Uptake of the Verified Beef Production™ (VBP) program continued to rise this year, with producer participation in training workshops experiencing substantial growth. The percent of production from VBP-trained operations in Canada has reached 55-60 per cent of production.

As of June 10th, 15,435 producers had participated in training workshops, including more than 750 taking the online version. The number of producers participating in the optional validation audit increased 43 per cent compared with June 2010.

Preparing 83,000 beef cattle producers in the on-farm food safety program has meant the beef industry continues to support feasible delivery systems in all regions. Growing Forward funding for workshops, audits and equipment purchases helps attract producers to the workshops.

This support is reflected somewhat in the numbers, with Alberta leading on the participation front with 5,967 producers and 233 workshops, followed by Saskatchewan with 3,216 producers and 208 workshops. Ontario, which has not been supportive of national programs, was third, with 2,713 producers in 235 workshops. Manitoba, with 2,145 producers and 119 workshops, ranked fourth.

Looking ahead, some producers are identifying VBP as part of the future where industry begins to differentiate its products.

VBP identifies practical, industry-sanctioned practices to enhance confidence in Canadian beef.


Sustainable Agriculture

Identifying safe methods to dispose of Specified Risk Materials (SRM) and perhaps even generate some value from the waste material is an issue of interest, particularly as the costs of SRM disposal have escalated with Canada's 2007 Enhanced Feed Ban.

The recent $10 million Government of Canada (GoC) investment to Cargill Meat Solutions to purchase and install equipment that will safely dispose of SRM, thus reduce the handling and disposal costs of the waste materials while generating energy and savings, is one way to turn a disposal cost into an energy opportunity.

The project will utilize SRM and compost material to produce energy in the form of steam and electricity for Cargill's High River facility. This will reduce the facility's costs for natural gas, used to produce steam, and electricity as less will have to be purchased from the commercial grid.

Once operational, the equipment will provide 80 per cent of the plant's energy needs, reducing fossil fuel requirements. This includes capturing methane off of the waste treatment plant and converting it to energy.

The project will see a reduction of SRM going to landfill, as Cargill SRM will be processed.  In addition, there is the potential to take SRM from other facilities to maximize an environmentally friendly disposal option.

Completion is slated for May 2012. The total cost of the project is pegged at $36 million with the GoC investment to Cargill a repayable loan.

The investment is delivered under the Slaughter Waste Innovation Program announced in Budget 2010. Through this program, the GoC will invest $40 million to support the study, development and adoption of innovative technologies or processes that help reduce processing costs or generate profits through the use or elimination of SRM.

The Enhanced Feed Ban has also increased deadstock disposal costs for cattle producers. In an effort to develop a practical, cost-effective on-farm method of dealing with deadstock, the BCRC is funding a Beef Science Cluster project led by Dr. Tim McAllister at the Lethbridge Research Station. This team is investigating whether the composting process will effectively break down BSE prions. A brief description of this research can be read here.


The CCA Thanks its Prime Partners

The CCA recognizes and thanks the continued support of the Canadian cattle industry by Prime Partners: Merck Animal Health, Scotiabank and Farm Credit Canada.

To learn more about the CCA Partners Program, visit www.cattle.ca/cca-partners-program.

CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: John Masswohl, Andrea Brocklebank, Reynold Bergen, Terry Grajczyk, Larry Thomas
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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