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CCA puts WTO appeal downtime to good use
Earlier this month, the World Trade Organization (WTO) extended the deadline for Canada, Mexico and the U.S. to adopt or appeal the November 18, 2011 Dispute Panel's report on U.S. Country of Origin Labelling (COOL).
The WTO ruled in favour of Canada and Mexico's complaint against COOL and supported Canada's position that provisions of COOL discriminate against live cattle and hogs imported into the U.S. The extension of the 60-day time period to March 23, 2012 from January 18, 2012 was granted following the joint request of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. The three parties said the requests were made to take into account the current workload of the Appellate Body, the WTO stated in a release.
The CCA accepts the delay and will use the extra time to continue to advocate that it is in the interest of U.S. meat processing jobs to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. The tight supply of cattle has resulted in over capacity in the U.S. meat processing sector, putting jobs there at risk. The extra costs that COOL imposes on U.S. meat processors exacerbates the situation. According to Dr. Daniel Sumner, a former U.S. Department of Agriculture Chief Economist and current professor of agricultural economics at the University of California-Davis, an estimated 9,000 U.S. meat processing jobs are at risk if COOL is left unresolved.
Of course, if U.S. meat packing capacity is curtailed and jobs are eliminated, the livestock producers who currently supply affected facilities will be further negatively impacted. Producers already complain about market concentration and buying power associated with too few meat processors. If COOL is unresolved and capacity is eliminated, the proponents of COOL will be responsible for further contributing to market concentration.
With the focus of the U.S. Government on trying to create jobs and reduce spending, it makes no sense to maintain a regulation that has created no quantifiable benefits for its proponents and puts U.S. jobs and livestock producers at risk. It also makes no sense to continue to spend U.S. taxpayer dollars sending lawyers to Geneva to continue defending such a measure.
CCA promotes better understanding of beef production in All-Access Moms Tour
Ensuring the public understands the level of care and diligence that Canada's beef cattle producers take in raising beef can be a challenge given there's no dearth of anti-agriculture information available today. A compounding factor is that food production is a mystery to many as today's consumer is often far removed from the farm.
McDonald's Canada is helping consumers cut through the clutter by ensuring that they receive the factual information regarding the production of McDonald's food.
One approach under the McDonald's strategy is the All-Access Moms Program. As part of this initiative, McDonald's invited blogging moms and CityLine Parenting Expert, Nanny Robina out to farms to see for themselves how the food that is served at McDonald's is produced. Participants visited beef and potato farms and processing facilities, as well as a chicken processing facility during the 2011 All-Access Moms tour.
As the largest purchaser of ground beef in the Canadian Restaurant industry (McDonald's purchases 66 million pounds annually), information about beef production figures prominently in the All-Access Moms Program.
The beef portion of the tour was spent in Spruce Grove, Alberta where the group spent some time at the Cargill Meats Canada beef patty processing facility, which is part of the Cargill Value Added Meats division and the source for McDonald's ground beef. Participants visited Lewis Farms, a fourth generation beef operation and received a beef industry overview from CCA representative Fawn Jackson.
At the Cargill facility the group was treated to a debunking of the urban myths of what's in a McDonald's hamburger patty, if ammonia is used in the production process (ammonia is not used in McDonald's Canada process) and why hamburgers do not mold as suggested in the 2004 documentary, Super Size Me. The truth of the matter is that a cooked patty left in open air will dehydrate, much like the process used to make beef jerky.
The moms had a lot of questions around animal care, animal feed, the environmental impact of raising beef and the need for feedlots. Some concerns expressed echoed common anti-agriculture views. The moms had all of their questions expertly answered and were impressed with the level of care that is taken along each step of the food supply chain to ensure that the food they purchase is a safe, wholesome and nutritious product.
The first CCA Town Hall meeting of 2012 will take place on February 9 in Pipestone, Manitoba. This event will be held at the Pipestone Community Hall from 2:30-5:00 pm CT and includes a complimentary meal and cash bar following the presentations.
Held in conjunction with CCA provincial member associations, the town hall meetings provide an excellent opportunity to connect with CCA executive and managers to get the latest news, updates and in-depth information on the many initiatives the CCA is involved in on behalf of Canada's 83,000 beef cattle producers. Representatives from the Manitoba Beef Producers will provide information updates on local issues of national importance.
Feedback from the inaugural CCA Town Hall Meeting held in Prince George, B.C. in October was positive. Many producers reported that they were extremely pleased with the high-quality information presented at the event. They also appreciated the opportunity to engage directly with CCA top brass during the question and answer period.
There is no fee to attend CCA Town Hall Meetings but producers are required to RSVP. Click here for more information or to register for the February 9, 2012 meeting.
Beef Science Cluster 2011 Review
Canada's Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster was developed in response to a Beef Research Review that was completed in 2008 on behalf of the Beef Value Chain Roundtable. The Beef Research Review found that applied beef and cattle research funding was fragmented across over 30 different funding bodies across Canada. Most of these funds are relatively small, many operate on a three-year cycle, and there is little communication or coordination among them. This makes it difficult for researchers or industry to obtain sufficient funds and funding continuity to adequately address challenges or pursue opportunities of high importance to Canada's beef industry. The Beef Cluster is an initial step to addressing these issues. The Cluster was developed in 2009, and brings together Canada's largest public and industry check-off research funding agencies, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC). The Cluster Research collaboration and investments under the Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster are focused on advancing research of priority to improve production efficiencies (65% of funding, 23 projects) and consumer confidence and beef demand (35% of funding, 9 projects). For an update on some of the progress that the Cluster has made since 2009, click here.