Volume 7 Issue 6 •July 3, 2012

In This Issue ...


WTO Appellate Body issues decision on COOL

Canada Day celebrations began a bit early in the cattle industry, thanks to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body decision regarding mandatory Country Origin of Labelling (COOL).

On June 29, the Appellate Body confirmed the most important part of the WTO Dispute Panel decision of November 2011 that the U.S. COOL legislation discriminates against Canadian livestock in the U.S. market. The Appellate Body's decision is final.

"This is the result that we have been seeking," said Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) President Martin Unrau.

Unrau, along with industry representatives, were in Dundurn, Saskatchewan, with Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, International Trade Parliamentary Secretary Gerald Keddy and Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification and Member of Parliament for Blackstrap Lynne Yelich, when the announcement was made.

By upholding the part of the panel ruling that confirmed the discriminatory nature of COOL, the Appellate Body's decision has provided an important victory for Canadian cattle producers. The CCA is hopeful that the U.S. will amend the COOL legislation to eliminate the discrimination.

"Going forward, the CCA will be working with its U.S. counterparts to develop a solution that eliminates the discrimination of Canadian cattle in the U.S. market," he said. COOL has affected billions of dollars of commerce in cattle and beef products since it was implemented in 2008. At a cost of $25 to $40 per head, the current impact of COOL to Canadian producers is approximately $150 million per year.

The CCA is very grateful for the determined efforts of International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and their officials in pursuing this case at the WTO. This case has been complex and expensive to argue for both the industry and the government, but it has been well worth the effort to achieve this decision.


Trade heats up in June

June was a remarkably active month in terms of positive trade developments for the Canadian cattle industry. The Government of Canada, in consultation with the CCA, terminated the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Panel against Korea. The action was taken due to the progress achieved this year moving exports of Canadian beef from under 30 month (UTM) cattle to Korea. Exports of Canadian beef and veal to Korea are anticipated to reach $30 million by 2015.

With the WTO matter now resolved, the CCA is calling on both governments to conclude the Canada-Korea free trade agreement (FTA) that began in 2005, but has been on hold since 2008. The CCA will assist the Government of Canada in any way possible to help complete a Canada-Korea FTA and to restore tariff parity between Canadian and U.S. beef in the Korean market.

At issue is the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) implemented on March 15, 2012. Under KORUS, the Korean tariff on U.S. beef imports will decrease by 2.7 percentage points annually until U.S. beef is duty free in 2026. Canadian beef, meanwhile, will remain subject to the full 40 per cent tariff unless Canada and Korea also reach a FTA.

Canada was also invited to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. The TPP negotiations are complementary to the bilateral free trade negotiations recently launched between Canada and Japan. Currently, Japan's application to join the TPP remains pending; in the CCA's view Japan's admittance to the TPP is the primary reason for Canada to join, followed by access to Vietnam, which is already a TPP partner.

In addition to Vietnam, the current TPP countries are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and the U.S. The announcement that Canada had been invited to the TPP was made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the G-20 in Los Cabos, Mexico, a day after Mexico was officially invited to join.

The TPP countries are seeking to conclude a 'high-ambition, next-generation regional agreement that liberalizes trade and investment and addresses new and traditional trade issues and 21st-century challenges.'  This is very much in line with the CCA's objectives for the TPP.

Gaining new access to markets like Japan and Vietnam is important. The elimination of Japan's 38.5 per cent and Vietnam's 20 per cent tariffs on beef are of particular interest, and the CCA believes that TPP countries should eliminate their import tariffs on all live cattle, bovine genetics, beef and beef products. These tariffs inhibit the ability of Canadian exporters to sell every piece of an animal into the highest value market for that piece. The elimination of the Japanese tariff alone could see Canadian beef exports to that market quadruple to approximately $275 million per year.

In the CCA's view, such a high-ambition agreement should see all TPP members commit themselves to be in conformity with international animal health guidelines established under the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE).

As well, the CCA would like to see the TPP create a vehicle to set its own food standards for the TPP region in situations where the existing international food standard body, Codex Alimentarius, fails to act in a timely manner.

Canada should also seek to gain agreement in the TPP that country of origin labelling of beef to consumers should be voluntary in all member countries.

Also in June, Peru became the latest country to provide full UTM access for Canadian beef and also some partial over 30 month access. There are now nearly 70 countries that have either fully or partially re-established access for Canadian beef since closing their borders in 2003.


Eating bison, beef and other range-fed meat helps grassland birds - report

Canfax Market Briefs

The first-ever report on the State of Canada's Birds said well-managed grazing provides natural habitat for Canada's birds.

The national report examines the human influence on Canada's bird populations since the 1970s, and the negatives and positives driving the trend. Cattle grazing is recognized as a positive practice that can help to preserve habitat for birds.

The report also let Canadians know that their lifestyle choices can help grassland birds. "Including bison, beef and other range-fed meat in your diet encourages the retention of pasture land," it said.

Click here to read the State of Canada's Birds report.


AMR in the news again

The issue of antibiotics in animal feed and antimicrobial resistance continues to make headlines. What often gets lost in the controversial debate on the issue of antimicrobial resistance and animal agriculture is the rationale for their use in beef production. Protecting the health and welfare of animals is the primary driver for responsible antimicrobial use in beef cattle production.

Canadian cattle producers have accepted an ethical responsibility to protect the health and welfare of their animals. Antimicrobials play an important role in this regard because not all cattle diseases can be prevented by vaccination. Producers also have an ethical responsibility to continue to use antimicrobial products prudently.

The CCA policy on prudent drug use was developed in 1994 as part of the original Quality Starts Here program, which evolved into the Verified Beef Production (VBP) program in 2004. VBP, Canada's on-farm food safety program, trains beef producers to follow industry-sanctioned practices that demonstrate that they select, use, store and dispose of antimicrobials in a responsible manner. It is a clear demonstration that Canada's beef industry has been at the forefront of promoting responsible antimicrobial use. At present, two thirds of Canada's beef production comes from VBP-trained operations and participation in the program continues to grow.

For the record, antimicrobials are medications that fight bacterial infections in humans and animals. According to Health Canada, a major cause of antimicrobial resistance is believed to be overuse or inappropriate use of drugs such as antibiotics, in preventing or treating infections in people, animals and plants.

Health Canada categorizes antimicrobials as low, medium, high or very high importance in human medicine. Drugs of the highest importance to human medicine are rarely used in beef cattle production; fewer than 1 per cent of the antimicrobials used in Canadian beef cattle are in the very high importance category, and antimicrobials of high or very high importance are not used to promote growth or feed efficiency. The majority of the antimicrobials used for growth and feed efficiency belong to a class of antimicrobials known as ionophores, and are not used in human medicine.

Antimicrobials made for cattle are used to help an animal regain or maintain superior health and produce safe beef. The Canadian beef cattle industry has funded research in the area of antimicrobial use and has participated in antimicrobial use and resistance surveillance programs. Research and surveillance evidence suggests that restricting antimicrobial use in beef production will have clear negative consequences for the health and welfare of beef cattle with no benefit for human health.

For the past decade, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has conducted a surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in food animals. Operated through the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance, the program does surveillance on farm, in abattoirs and on retail meat. The program reports their finding in annual reports which are public.

Results to date suggest that the degree of resistance to antimicrobials used in the beef industry is not increasing, especially for antimicrobials that are the most important in human medicine. The latest report shows resistance to these drugs in healthy beef cattle and retail beef is below two per cent, and have shown no signs of increasing since 2003.

Finally, the Veterinary Drug Directorate (VDD), Health Canada, must approve all veterinary drugs before they can be sold in Canada. These points are often overlooked by anti-animal agriculture groups, and the issue itself is oversimplified by mainstream media.

Generalizing the issue of antimicrobial resistance across all antimicrobials and across livestock industries contributes to the confusion among public and officials who must balance the issues around the use of antimicrobials for maintaining the health and well-being of livestock, pets and humans.


Register now for the Canadian Cattle Industry AAA Golf Tournament

Don't forget to register for the Canadian Cattle Industry AAA Golf Tournament, to be held at the Heather Glen Golf Course in Calgary on August 16. Click here to register.


Controlling Foxtail Barley

Foxtail barley is a problematic perennial weed in many regions across Canada. It spreads vast quantities of air-dispersed seeds and invades bare land caused by erosion or saline soil. The stiff, sharp awns of foxtail barely can be lodged in the noses and mouths of grazing livestock, causing discomfort and possible infection, as well as reduced feed intake, weight gain and milk production. Costly herbicide applications, reduced forage production, price discounts on hay, reduced animal performance and infection treatments caused by foxtail barley infestations can result in significant economic losses for producers.

A research project funded in part by the Alberta Beef Producers tested numerous forage varieties and their ability to suppress foxtail barley on saline land, provide good nutrition for grazing and maintain long stand life. While many of the varieties were found to be effective on soils with low to moderate salinity levels, the AC Saltlander variety was the best suited to controlling foxtail barley on more saline soils. AC Saltlander has high forage quality and was found to improve animal gains. To learn more about this study, download the project factsheet (PDF).


CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: John Masswohl, Terry Grajczyk.
Contributors: Karin Schmid.
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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