Volume 3 Issue 11 • November 8, 2010

In This Issue ...


Fall meetings draw to a close

CCA Ottawa point men John Masswohl and Ryder Lee took a hiatus from their roles in Canada’s capital this fall to hit the road and touch base with producers on their own turf. The annual fall meetings provide an opportunity for CCA staff to listen to local issues and get a better sense of what is going on in the country. The meetings also allow the CCA to inform producers about the strong partnership the CCA has built in Ottawa with Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and other Members of Parliament to achieve results on their behalf.   

Canfax Market BriefsThe 2010 fall meeting season kicked off in September, with the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association. The Alberta Beef Producers and the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association held overlapping meetings at the end of October and into early November. The early start to the meeting season gave the CCA that much more opportunity to connect with producers.

Overall, the tone of the meetings was positive, save in those areas hit by extreme weather. Producers in North East Saskatchewan, the Peace region of Alberta and the Interlake and Westlake regions of Manitoba, expressed frustration about AgriRecovery not living up to their expectations.

In Saskatchewan, AgriRecovery coverage was made available for cropland, but producers on hay land and grassland are still waiting and wondering if the program will have something for them. In other areas, expectations for AgriRecovery, based on past experiences in similar situations, added to frustration levels. Producers in these areas don’t like that they are still waiting for much of the information they need to make their pre-winter decisions.

Improved prices relative to last year and the four year average contributed to the positive mood at the meetings. Improving international market access and success on other CCA advocacy priorities such as funding for SRM disposal have contributed to the strengthening market fundamentals for Canadian cattle producers.  

Presentations about the CCA’s structure, funding and what we are pursuing on behalf of producers were largely met with satisfaction and questions of clarification.  

As in past years, attendance at these meetings varied. Fall is a busy time to begin with and local elections, weather, and the rate of progress of fall work all factor into a producer’s decision to make the time to attend a meeting.

Masswohl and Lee enjoy these sessions, as the information and insights they come away with helps them do their jobs in Ottawa on behalf of producers better. The people they meet are also more apt to stay in touch with questions or concerns, and that helps the CCA to continue to build understanding within the industry.


BIXS stage one launch to stakeholder partners under way

The CCA is pleased to announce the stage one launch of the Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS) to stakeholder partners. These partners represent existing and, in some cases, large beef cattle databases and specific beef cattle programs.

The stage one launch commenced at the end of October and will continue for several weeks as stakeholder partners make the necessary preparations to batch upload individual animal data to the BIXS database.

Issues may arise during this initial launch but to-date the process has been relatively smooth, reported the CCA’s Larry Thomas, national coordinator of the BIXS and Canadian Beef Advantage programs.

In the meantime, the BIXS management team is finalizing the details of the BIXS application leading up to the program’s national launch to cow-calf and feedlot producers.

“This second stage may roll out in a couple of phases, with the initial targeted launch to cow-calf producers on high-speed Internet connections or those enrolling and submitting data to BIXS through a third party,” Thomas said.

Interested producers are urged to visit the BIXS web site often for updates on the stage two launch and to learn more about the program. For more information, visit: http://bixs.cattle.ca.


Community pasture project takes traceability to another level

The results of a small-scale RFID demonstration on a chunk of federally-managed community pasture speak volumes about the issues surrounding mandatory traceability.

Held in late September, the demonstration involved four heifers who, at the behest of a horse riding handler and his border collie, exited their pen and entered an alleyway. Once the pecking order sorted itself out, the heifers proceeded through the alleyway and passed by a set of panel readers. Only three of the four animal’s RFID ear tags registered on the panel readers.

The reason for the miss wasn’t immediately clear to observers on hand for the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) demonstration, held on the Excel community pasture about an hour south of Moose Jaw, Sask. As it turned out, the results weren’t entirely unexpected either.

The results of the brief demonstration are consistent with the preliminary findings of panel reader take-in experiments conducted by the AAFC Community Pasture Traceability project.

The project examined the feasibility of full traceability of livestock on federally-managed community pastures. The pilot put the current infrastructure and equipment (wand readers, panel readers and bar code tags) to the test in an environment where there is typically no cell phone coverage and little access to electricity.

“We didn’t expect a 100 percent read rate. That’s not why we did it. We knew that there were some considerations that had to be explored,” said Susie Miller, director general, market and industry services branch, AAFC.

Four community pastures are involved in the project, with approximately 650 head per pasture. All told, AAFC operates 85 community pastures in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

“The reason we looked at community pastures is because eventually down the road this is going to be one of the areas that would be included in a full traceability system,” she said.

Challenges encountered during the project include limited wand reader range, cattle flow past wand reader technicians, technician safety, weather, and a decrease in read percentage when calves moved through the system three-abreast. As well, exposed batteries for panel readers presented safety and battery longevity issues.

A final report, expected by the new year, will describe the full results of the project and include recommendations on the feasibility of implementing full traceability standards at AAFC community pastures. The project results will assist the industry in the adoption of best practices to meet traceability standards, AAFC said.

In other traceability news, the Alberta government and the province’s beef cattle industry recently agreed to The Guiding Principles for Beef Cattle Traceability. The five principles establish an acceptable common understanding of traceability between government and industry and serve as a foundation for a national beef traceability system.

The fourth principle recognizes that the beef cattle tagging system underpinning traceability “will not, under existing technology, achieve a rate of 100 percent tag retention or 100 percent readability.” Establishing and accepting tolerance ranges and a practical enforcement policy will help industry and government implement a successful beef cattle traceability system, the principle states.

The CCA remains committed to improving and enhancing Canada’s traceability system. Our view is that timelines and methods must be considered carefully to ensure that we don’t simply add another regulatory cost that will leave producers less competitive.


Call for mentorship applicants goes nationwide

The Cattlemen’s Young Leaders (CYL) development program will offer mentorship opportunities across Canada next year, following a successful pilot program in Alberta.

Beef enthusiasts between the ages of 18 and 35 can apply online now to vie for one of the 16 CYL mentorships available in Canada in 2011. The mentorship opportunities will begin in April 2011 and run for a period of eight-months. Applications will be accepted until Jan. 25, 2011.

A national youth initiative of the CCA, the CYL program provides industry-specific training and mentorship opportunities to producers between the ages of 18 and 35. CYL participants will have the opportunity to explore a potential career choice or involvement with a provincial/national producer organization, while gaining the expertise and business acumen necessary to sustain the cattle industry into the future.

Eligible interested parties can submit an application online at: http://www.cattlemensyoungleaders.com/cyl_application_form.html.

For further information please contact Jill Harvie at: harviej@cattle.ca.


Alberta Ag announces new funds for Verified Beef on-farm implementation

Work plan applications are now being accepted for the Growing Forward OFFS Producer Program, which received additional funding for this fiscal year in response to strong producer participation. This funding is intended to assist Alberta producers with the implementation of their commodity specific on-farm food safety program, which for beef producers is the Verified Beef Production program.

Funding covers 70 percent of eligible expenses for approved activities up to maximum of $5,000 per applicant. Full details and the work plan application form can be found on the Growing Forward website at www.growingforward.alberta.ca. Information about the Verified Beef Production program in Alberta can be found at www.beefsafety.ab.ca.


Mycoplasma in fall-placed feedlot calves

Mycoplasma bovis is involved in bovine respiratory disease, chronic pneumonia and severe lameness in feedlot cattle, but some cattle can carry the bacteria without becoming ill. A BCRC project funded by the National Check-off studied the spread of the bacteria within feedlot cattle. Click here to read more.

CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: John Masswohl, Ryder Lee, Larry Thomas, Jill Harvie, Terry Grajczyk, Reynold Bergen
Written, edited and compiled by: Gina Teel and Tracy Sakatch

To sign up for CCA's “Action News”:
Visit www.cattle.ca and click on “Sign-up for Action News”.

For more information, contact:

CCA Communications at feedback@cattle.ca or visit our website at www.cattle.ca

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association is the national voice for nearly 90,000 Canadian beef cattle producers

Head office:
Ste. 310, 6715 8th Street NE, Calgary, AB   T2E 7H7
Phone: 403.275.8558   Fax: 403.274.5686

Ottawa office:
1207, 350 Sparks Street, Ottawa, ON   K1R 7S8
Phone: 613.233.9375   Fax: 613.233.2860