Volume 5 Issue 8 • August 29, 2011

In This Issue ...


CCA update - NCBA summer meeting in Florida

Earlier this month, the CCA attended the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) summer meeting in Kissimmee, Florida.

CanFax Market BriefsThe main concern on the minds of U.S. cattle producers, particularly those in the southern states, was the extreme drought encompassing major cattle production areas including Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico, as well as significant portions of Colorado, Kansas, Georgia and Arizona.  Many producers we spoke to were selling off cattle or bringing in hay from the North for up to $290/tonne. For some the situation was so dire that they were praying for the early arrival of hurricane season to bring a downpour.

In terms of policy, the NCBA is gearing up for a fight to stop the GIPSA rule from coming into effect.  They have a legal fund and say they will not hesitate to utilize the courts to seek an injunction to prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from bringing the rule into effect.  On trade policy, the NCBA is putting its shoulder into getting the U.S. Congress to vote on and pass the three pending free trade agreements the U.S. has signed but not implemented with Korea, Colombia and Panama.

With respect to COOL, the NCBA has taken notice that the WTO has delivered its final decision to the U.S., Canadian and Mexican Governments. While the CCA is bound by a confidentiality agreement not to disclose the content of the ruling, apparently the NCBA has learned enough from media reports to take a position on the case.  At the NCBA International Markets Committee meeting on August 3, a directive was passed that:

"NCBA staff should urge the U.S. Trade Representative to forego an appeal of the WTO ruling on US COOL and work with Congress and/or regulatory agencies to implement a program that is WTO compliant and consistent with current NCBA policy."

The CCA has worked with the NCBA, its state affiliates and lawmakers in Washington for several months in anticipation of the ruling to encourage the U.S. to waive any appeal and to move directly to resolve the dispute.  We have been clearly communicating our position that we are not seeking the outright repeal of COOL but could be content with a surgical amendment that would retain provisions that provide consumers with more information about the origin of their food while eliminating the negative discrimination that some of the COOL provisions have created for livestock imported to the U.S.


BIXS launches Phase 2 to cow-calf producers

The CCA launched the second phase of the Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS) to cow-calf producers in mid-August, slightly ahead of schedule.

BIXS is an individual animal and carcass data information exchange system being developed by the CCA with funding provided through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Agriflexibility Fund.

Phase 1 of the launch took place in June and July and involved a limited number of cow-calf producers. The information and feedback obtained from this group helped to refine system functionality and ensure ease of use for Phase 2 participants.

Phase 2 will involve nearly 100 cow-calf producers from across Canada. This group will be invited to register and begin submitting the individual animal birthdate, production, animal health protocol, breed and genetic information of their cattle. A nationwide launch of BIXS to all cow-calf producers remains on target for the fall calf run.

BIXS national coordinator Larry Thomas said the feedback from Phase 1 participants has been instrumental in moving the roll-out along. "Launching in phases allows us to deal with any technological issues that may arise with BIXS," he said. "Our cautious approach to the launch is paying off. We're making significant strides."

Thomas said the technical work continues on the registration and data submission solution for feedlots. This tool should be available to Canadian feedlot participants this fall. As well, the CCA continues to work with slaughter plants to set up the carcass evaluation equipment, enabling detailed carcass data linked to the animal's Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) ID tag to flow to BIXS.

With the full launch of BIXS fast approaching, the CCA is reminding cow-calf producers to keep records of their animals' CCIA tag numbers and birthdates, either a calving start date or an actual birthdate. This is required information in the BIXS program. Optional information, including vaccines and herd health protocols, along with a range of other information, can also be entered.

Thomas reminded producers that they don't physically have to have the cattle on their operation to enter their data. "If producers sell the cattle, they should record the birthdate information and the CCIA tag ID numbers," he said. "This information is required at the cow-calf level of BIXS in order to participate and, in turn, get carcass data later on as the cattle move through the system."

For more information and to stay abreast of launch developments, visit the BIXS website at: http://bixs.cattle.ca


Distillers' grains and food safety

Feeding distillers' grains may affect E. coli O157:H7 shedding in feedlot cattle. Some U.S. studies have found that cattle fed corn distillers' grains shed more E. coli O157:H7 than cattle fed corn grain, while other researchers have not seen any difference. Western Canadian feedlot diets are typically based on barley grain, and some western Canadian biofuel producers use wheat. Differences in the nutrient composition of corn, barley, wheat and their distillers' grains by-products may impact how well E. coli O157:H7 survives in the animal's digestive tract. Dr. Kim Stanford and co-workers recently compared E. coli O157:H7 shedding in cattle fed barley-based finishing diets to those fed finishing diets supplemented with corn or wheat dried distillers' grains. Click here to read what they learned.


Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA)

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 directly or indirectly affect the industry and to clearly articulate our position on issues to a broad audience.

The CCA was a founding member of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA) in 1997. The need for an organization like CAFTA became apparent as the Government of Canada developed its agriculture negotiating position in the late 1990's. In spite of the fact that the majority of Canadian agriculture is reliant on access to global markets, the various exporting agricultural commodity groups were not as well organized or funded as those who championed purely defensive positions. CAFTA emerged at that critical time to carry a unified message that Canadian agriculture needs ambitious global trade liberalization.

CAFTA is a coalition of national and regional organizations, associations and companies that support a more open and fair international trading environment for agriculture and agri-food products. CAFTA has members from across the entire value chain, including representation from the beef and pork industries, the Canadian Meat Council, and the canola and cereals industries. This range of membership is vital when understanding the broader aspects of foreign trade; since these discussions are not exclusive to beef but commonly include other commodities as well.

CAFTA has been fortunate to attract an impressive succession of producer presidents since its formation. The first CAFTA president was Ted Menzies, who currently serves in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Cabinet as Minister of State for Finance. Menzies was followed by Liam McCreery, a grain and oilseed farmer from Ontario; Alanna Koch, current Deputy Minister for Agriculture in Saskatchewan; and Darcy Davis, former Chairman of Alberta Beef Producers. Currently Stan Eby, a former president of the CCA from Ontario, holds the top job. Eby will conclude his term in October of this year.

CAFTA has been effective at ensuring the needs of Canadian export commodities are reflected in Government negotiating positions. Unfortunately, the WTO negotiations have all but officially collapsed (for reasons unrelated to Canadian positions). When WTO negotiations eventually do resume, the CCA will want CAFTA to be ready to ensure Canada enters those negotiations with an ambitious position.

"In the meantime, CAFTA is remaining active by focusing on the major bi-lateral negotiations initiatives in which Canada is involved," noted John Masswohl, the CCA's staff person on CAFTA. "In fact, CAFTA has carved out somewhat of a niche as the go-to organization for domestic and foreign government officials in connecting with the agriculture industry and keeping up to speed on issues and positions."

Canada is the fourth largest agri-food exporter in the world behind the EU, U.S. and Brazil. More than 90 per cent of Canada's farmers are dependent on exports; with their viability depending on the sale of products that are either exported or sold domestically at international prices. A healthy, open and barrier free international marketplace is critical for Canadian agriculture. For more information, visit www.cafta.org.

CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: John Masswohl, Larry Thomas, Reynold Bergen, Brenna Grant
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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