Volume 1 Issue 5 | November 16, 2009

In This Issue ...

Update on Canada – EU trade negotiations

Half-a-billion people in the 27 nations of the EU (European Union) consume over 8 million tonnes of beef per year, yet Canada has virtually no access for beef mainly due to prohibitively high tariffs and other technical barriers. Recognizing the potential of this huge, high income market, the Government of Canada formally launched negotiations towards a Canada - EU Comprehensive Trade Agreement.

In late October, Canadian and EU negotiators conducted the first round of face-to-face meetings over five days in Ottawa. Although details remain confidential, both sides were pleased with the progress in advancing the development of a negotiating text. This sets a good precedent for proceeding to the second set of meetings - scheduled for January in Brussels, at which time we hope they will start discussing substantive offers and terms of access.

The CCA is placing a high priority on achieving a meaningful result for beef access into Europe under the Canada-EU Comprehensive Trade Negotiations. Yet we know from our experience in the United States that a trade agreement is just the first step. Having a solid relationship with the other country is essential to sustaining long term access. To begin such a relationship, we undertook an exploratory mission to Brussels to engage with European industry counterparts and EU officials. From these initial meetings, we are optimistic that a meaningful agreement for Canada’s beef cattle producers is achievable. That said, we recognize that nothing will be handed to us on a platter so it is critical to engage in the negotiating process to secure an acceptable outcome. On that front, CCA is conducting analysis on what various outcomes from the negotiations could mean for beef exports and cattle production in Canada.  We will continue to refine this analysis and continue our advocacy work so as to advise the negotiators on both sides of the Atlantic.  At the end of the negotiations, we hope that there will be an agreement that CCA will find worthwhile to support.

CCA builds coalition to seek SRM Disposal Compensation Program

A coalition comprised of the CCA, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Canadian Federation of Agriculture and other beef processor organizations has united to request the creation of an Over-Thirty-Month (OTM) Cattle Specified Risk Material (SRM) Disposal Compensation Program. Specifically, the coalition requests a payment of $31.70 per head be made to abattoirs for every OTM animal slaughtered in Canada.

Proposals for such a compensation program have been under discussion for several months. This work has culminated in the various groups sending a single letter to Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Gerry Ritz, signaling that they have agreed on a single, specific request. The coalition organizations also appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture to further explain the need for the program to Members of Parliament.  With the peak OTM slaughter season in Canada running from late-October through to early-December, it was stressed that a positive response is urgently needed.

The primary objective of any assistance must be to maintain OTM slaughter capacity in Canada. If we fail to achieve this, we will lose thousands of jobs throughout the nation, and Canadian beef and dairy cattle producers will be at the mercy of any future, disruptive United States (U.S.) trade rules. It was requested that this Program remain in effect until the SRM removal and disposal policies of Canada and the U.S. can be harmonized.

Click here to read the coalition's letter to Minister Ritz.


CCA pleased with upgrade to Manitoba beef processing plant

The CCA commends the Government of Canada for its efforts to assist the beef and cattle industry by conditionally approving a loan of up to $10 million to Keystone Processors Ltd. to upgrade a beef processing plant in Manitoba. It is a positive thing for cattle producers in Manitoba to gain federally inspected capacity in the local marketplace.

At the same time, both new and current Canadian processors face a significant competitive shortfall relative to processors in the United States (U.S.). A lack of harmonization with the U.S.’ feed ban coupled with our stringent requirements for removal and disposal of specified risk materials (SRM) continues to drive cattle to the U.S. for processing. As per the article above (“CCA proposes coalition to address SRM Disposal Compensation Program”), the CCA is pressing the Government of Canada to create regulatory equality within the North American market and provide compensation for the SRM removal from cattle over-thirty-months. Until this discrepancy is addressed, Canada’s current slaughter capacity as well as any new capacity will have viability challenges.


CCA’s ongoing lobbying efforts in Ottawa

Lately, there have been a number of media reports on CCA’s lobbying efforts in Ottawa when in reality, it’s nothing new for CCA to be active in our nation’s capital. We maintain an office in Ottawa with two full-time staff, who are responsible for ongoing government relations work.

Perhaps what created the heightened awareness of our efforts was a combination of cattle producers having an even more difficult time this fall, and people have a higher than usual appetite to know what’s being done in Ottawa to improve the situation for the cattle industry.

To recap, in the past month-and-a-half, we held our annual Ottawa fall fly-in and follow-up meetings with Ministers’ staff, officials from various departments, several MPs (Members of Parliament) from Government and Opposition Parties, foreign officials and industry allies. 

In the course of this work, a number of national and provincial cattle industry representatives made the trip to Ottawa – some several times. So our presence in Ottawa in and of itself is business as usual, but it’s fair to say that the level of intensity has stepped up considerably due to the urgency of the issues. 

Currently, our messaging in Ottawa is three-fold. First, we are pressing for policy changes in the regulatory environment in which our industry operates, in order to restore our competitiveness. We need to get our operating costs down. Until this can be achieved, we are urging the Government to provide financial compensation for the regulatory burdens the industry faces.

Second, we continue to seek the re-opening of major valuable markets. The restrictions that continue to limit or prohibit our sales to Mexico, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Russia and China represent at least $100 on every head of finished cattle. The United States’ Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling legislation has significant impact as well.

Third, cattle producers need business risk management programs that respond to their needs.

We have been pushing on all of these fronts and we continue our efforts on behalf of Canada’s cattle producers.

Click here to view the CCA’s Priority Action Items.


“Trends, Cycles and Seasonality in the Cattle Industry” now available

The Canadian beef industry is a cyclical and seasonal, commodity-based industry characterized by high volumes, low margins and intensive capital requirements. Producers often use the predictability of these cycles and seasonality to their advantage by expanding, selling or maintaining their herd size to correspond with the supply and demand fundamentals of the cycle.

While the duration of a cattle cycle can be affected by outside forces such as drought, disease or significant economic events, a typical cattle cycle runs from ten to twelve years. A cycle generally consists of five years of expansion, three years of liquidation, and two years of consolidation.

Building on the successful cattle cycle books started in 1981 by Charles Gracey, Canfax Research Services has expanded that publication to include overall industry trends and annual seasonality for a 2009 edition entitled, “Trends, Cycles and Seasonality in the Cattle Industry”. This updated version provides a valuable resource to industry that will assist producers in making management decisions. Heifer replacement strategies and historical returns from retaining ownership are discussed, along with cycle indicators and historical trends, providing key information to assist producers.

“Trends, Cycles and Seasonality in the Cattle Industry” is now available for $15 payable by cheque, Visa or MasterCard. To order the 2009 edition, contact Brenna Grant at grantb@canfax.ca or 403-275-8558 or go online to www.canfax.ca for an order form.


CJDI Part II - What is Johne’s Disease and how does it impact you?

In our last issue of CCA’s “Action News”, we introduced the Canadian Johne’s Disease Initiative (CJDI) and talked about the objectives of the program. Now, let’s get in to a discussion on the actual Johne’s Disease (JD) and how it could impact you.

What is Johne’s Disease?
JD is a contagious, progressive bacterial infection that causes abnormal thickening of the lining of the intestine and restricts the absorption of nutrients. Clinical signs of animals infected with JD are long-lasting diarrhea and extreme weight loss despite maintaining some appetite. JD is caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, MAP), a distant relative to the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.

Animals usually become infected with MAP as calves. No signs of disease are seen for years after infection and most infected cows never show signs. Infected animals may appear normal and spread the disease to other animals in the herd before showing signs themselves. During this time, infected animals may be sold, culled or die without owners being aware that these cows are infected.

How is it spread?
JD is spread through the contamination of udders, feed or water by manure from infected animals. Calves are the most susceptible to new infection, but adults may also be susceptible if there is exposure to high levels of the MAP bacteria. While MAP does not multiply in the environment, it can survive in manure, water and pastures for up to one-year or more - depending on conditions.

Calves may also be infected through colostrum and milk from infected cows. Occasionally, calves can be born already infected. With increasing age, calves become resistant to infection and by about one-year of age, their resistance equals that of a full adult. JD usually enters a herd through the purchase of an infected animal that sheds the bacteria in its manure.

Why should you be concerned?
JD can have a significant financial impact in a beef herd through reduced feed efficiency, difficulty maintaining body condition, increased or earlier culling and reduced value of breeding stock sales. Management factors that contribute to JD may also be associated with an increased incidence of other calf-hood diseases (particularly scours).

Stay tuned for more coverage on this issue in future editions of “Action News” as we talk about tips for preventing JD and recommended best management practices.

For more information, visit the CJDI page on the CAHC website www.animalhealth.ca/CJDI.

CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: John Masswohl, Ryder Lee, Brenna Grant (CanFax) and Rob McNabb
Written by: Natalie Arnieri
Edited by: Sharon Jensen

For more information, contact:
CCA Communications at ‘feedback@cattle.ca’ or visit our website at www.cattle.ca

Canadian Cattlemen’s Association – 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