Volume 7 Issue 1 • April 23, 2012

In This Issue ...


CCA heading to Geneva for U.S. appeal of COOL

In early May, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) will be in Geneva for the oral hearings related to the U.S. Government appeal of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Panel decision of November 2011. The CCA is committed to seeing the mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) issue resolved and will continue to support the Government of Canada legal team throughout the appeal process to ensure the strongest possible defence. A decision from the WTO is expected sometime in June.

COOL is an issue that costs our industry more than $100 million per year. On an individual basis, COOL costs Canadian cattle producers at least $25 on every animal they sell regardless of whether it goes to the U.S. or not.  The unnecessary cost of COOL undermines our competitiveness and places Canadian beef at a disadvantage. To date the CCA has incurred more than $1 million in expenses on the U.S. COOL issue related to advocacy in the U.S. and legal fees. The CCA is not going to stand down from its effort until this issue is resolved.



BSE surveillance

About this time next month, nine years will have passed since the May 2003 detection of BSE in Canada. Although the numbers continue to decline in terms of detected cases, both in Canada and globally, it will be a few more years before Canada can fully demonstrate the full effectiveness of the control measures in place to eradicate the disease from the national herd.

Dr. Brian Evans, Chief Veterinary officer for Canada, said the BSE surveillance program is the most critical means for Canada to demonstrate just how effective the control measures in place, particularly the feed ban, have been. He is reminding producers that the surveillance program helps Canada to meet the commitments it made to its trading partners as part of the recovery of markets post-BSE.

"While the economic prospects for the sector are looking reasonably good at this point in time, we did make collective commitments on behalf of the industry and government to trading partners in the negotiations that have got us the level of market recovery that we currently have," said Dr. Evans.
"We recognize the past nine years have not been easy for producers but if we are to stay the course for a period longer we can achieve what we collectively set out to do."

The stewardship and strong support of producers to date has been an important element in sustaining consumer trust in Canada and noted repeatedly by regulatory officials in other countries in their decision making to restore market access, he said.

During the month of March, a total of 2,593 surveillance samples were tested for BSE, compared with 4,199 samples a year earlier. During the three months between January 1 and March 31, 2012, a total of 7,718 surveillance samples were tested, compared with 10,869 samples last year. About 30,000 samples are required per year, in accordance with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines. The surveillance targets have been adjusted to take into account the reduced size of the national herd and changes in the overall age of the herd.

Dr. Evans said Canada is in its fifth year of the enhanced feed ban, and is just at the mean average incubation period. The real proof will come in the next two to three years, he said, and that's what the CFIA is focussing on.

"If we can sustain this effort through to 2015 we should be in a very good position at the international level to adjust our surveillance activities accordingly on the recognition that we've done our due diligence and that the measures we've demonstrated scientifically are effective measures, and then we can then make further programming adjustments as part of the BSE roadmap forward," he said.

Last year, there were a total of 29 BSE cases globally in countries that test for it, and a 50 per cent decrease in cases every year over the last four or five years.

While producers may see that as a signal to finally put BSE behind them, Dr. Evans said continued vigilance at home is still required, given the fact that we have restored markets for beef products and live animals.


Ottawa Food Bank's Food Aid Program counting on producers

Canfax Market Briefs

Recognizing the difficulty for financially struggling families to ensure they are eating a balanced diet, the Ottawa Food Bank's 'Food Aid' program raises money to purchase cull cows, from Ottawa-area sale barns, which are then processed locally into ground beef, frozen and distributed to the food bank's member agencies. Food Aid has distributed 692,928 pounds of ground beef since its inception in 2005. This year, higher cattle prices, rising production costs and tight supply could see fewer animals going through the program. The Ottawa Food Bank is counting on public support more than ever this year so it can continue to provide its clients with healthy and much needed beef.

The Food Aid program also welcomes donated cull cows directly from farmers, which are used alongside the purchased cows to produce the ground beef that is distributed to Ottawa families. To date individual producers have donated 195 cows to the program with an average cow producing around 432 lbs of ground beef. Since 2005, the program has processed just over 1,600 cows.

The concept for the Food Aid program came during the BSE crisis as a win-win idea to support the local cattle industry by taking surplus animals and provided much needed beef to Ottawa families.

Very different cattle market dynamics are at play today. The CCA's Director of Government and International Relations, John Masswohl, said beef cow numbers have declined approximately 25 per cent since 2006, are expected to be stable in 2012 and 2013 and then start to grow in 2014.  This means beef cattle producers are likely to be reducing their cow culling rates relative to the past five years. However, as beef producers' revenues have increased, so have their input costs. "The issue for cattle producers today is high input costs on everything such as fuel, land, feed, labour and regulatory compliance.  So even with record high prices, it doesn't guarantee that everyone is making a profit and this is likely to slow expansion," Masswohl explained. 

A key element for the Food Aid program is the annual Food Aid Day fundraising event. This fun filled public event features a beef barbeque and entertainment and helps to raise awareness and funds for its Food Aid program. The Canadian Meat Council has donated the beef for the Food Aid Day barbeque for the last five years. The barbeque event includes an on-location radiothon, a celebrity milking competition and local music and entertainment guests. This year's Food Aid Day event takes place Friday, June 1 at two locations: Ottawa City Hall and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's national headquarters.

The CCA's Manager of Federal Provincial Relations, Ryder Lee, has attended the Food Aid barbeque for a number of years. "It's a day when everyone involved wins. People can come enjoy a great burger for a great cause and people who use the Food Bank get to add more nutritious beef to their meals."

The CCA is proud to be associated with the Food Aid program and encourages producers to consider donating a cull cow or two to this worthwhile program. For those who don't live in Eastern Ontario, contact a food bank in a city near you and encourage them to adopt a similar program of their own. Peter Tilley, executive director of the Ottawa Food Bank, said he's brought the idea to other food banks but as far as he knows "we may still be the only food bank in North America, let alone Canada, doing this event."

Anyone wanting to donate cash or a cull cow to the Food Aid program can contact the Ottawa Food Bank by calling 613-745-7001 or via email at: foodbank@theottawafoodbank.ca.


CYL 2012 mentorship recipients announced

The Cattlemen's Young Leaders (CYL) Program announced its 2012 mentorship recipients earlier this month. The recipients were selected at the CYL Spring Forum in Saskatoon, where a total of 24 finalists competed for 16 available spots in the coveted national youth initiative of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.

The 2012 recipients will be paired with a mentor for an eight month mentorship which provides industry-specific training. The full line-up of 2012 mentors will be announced in late June.

The 2012 CYL mentorship recipients are:

British Columbia: Cole Bailey and Erika Strand.

Alberta: Amy Mayner, Brodie Haugan, Jakob Meyer, Joanne Solverson, Micheal Nadeau, Travis Ebens, Ashley Shannon, and Tyson Lowe.

Saskatchewan: Eric Buyer, Jeffery Yorga, and Ryan Hurlburt.

Ontario: Kimberly McCaw, Kerry Hyatt, and Katie Wood.

CYL candidate Amy Mayner is excited and honored to be chosen for the 2012 program.  Raised on a fourth-generation mixed farm near Rimbey, AB, Mayner said she is looking forward to building new relationships and gaining a new perspective through the CYL program.

"I am very familiar with our family farm's approach to raising beef cattle and I'm excited to increase my knowledge of what the beef industry has to offer professionally," she said.

Mayner will be graduating soon from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, with a major in Animal Science. She will pursue a career in agriculture, specifically in the beef industry, and is confident the CYL's Professional Mentorship program will help her to decide where best to direct her efforts.

Ryan Hurlburt is also looking forward to experiencing the CYL program. He said the program provides a unique opportunity for young people in the industry that wasn't available in his parents' generation. Having grown up on the family ranch northwest of Saskatoon, he's familiar with the challenges facing the industry then and now.

"We're in more of a consumer age where everybody wants to know where their beef comes from and it's important to have programs to help the producer of tomorrow educate the consumers of tomorrow and today," he said.

Hurlburt is attending the University of Saskatchewan, where he's taking Agriculture Business, and has worked as an auctioneer throughout his studies. He is interested in the CYL program's Professional Mentorship, particularly in the area of policy and trade and agri-education.

"Understanding the process behind the creation of policies and understanding the role of international policies such as U.S. Farm Bills is quite important and the effects these policies have on producers, as well as domestic and international trade," he said. "As a nation that is heavily reliant on exports it will be vital to understand key issues surrounding trade."

Hurlburt added that he's looking forward to getting back in the industry post-university through the CYL Program. "It's one of those programs that you get out as much as you put in. Obviously networking is going to be a big thing," he said.

The CYL Program provides industry-specific training and mentorship opportunities to young producers. CYL participants 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.

Funding for the CYL Program is made available through its Foundation Partners, UFA Co-operative Ltd., the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) and Cargill.


Effects of feeding ethanol byproducts on rumen health

Grain-based finishing diets contribute to rapid, efficient growth of feedlot cattle but increase the risk of sub-acute ruminal acidosis, or chronically depressed rumen pH below 5.5-5.6.  Acidosis may cause rumen ulcers that allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream, infect the liver, and cause visible liver abscesses at slaughter.  Maintaining rumen health on high grain diets requires adequate neutral detergent fibre (NDF) levels as well as adequate NDF particle size.  Silage is typically included in the finishing diet to provide NDF.  Dried distillers' grains with solubles (DDGS) from bio-ethanol production are a good energy source for ruminants, and have relatively high NDF levels, leading some to question whether DDGS can replace silage in finishing diets. A pair of recently completed BCRC research studies conducted by the University of Saskatchewan and AAFC's Lethbridge Research Station examined how replacing grain and silage with DDGS in feedlot diets affected rumen function, animal performance, carcass quality, and liver abscesses.  Click here to learn more.

CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: John Masswohl, Ryder Lee, Reynold Bergen
Written, edited and compiled by: Gina Teel and Matthew French

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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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