Volume 7 Issue 12 • September 24, 2012

In This Issue ...


CCA annual Fall Country Picnic on Parliament Hill

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) is holding its annual Fall Country Picnic on Parliament Hill on September 25th.  This relatively new event has become a highly anticipated and well attended event for Members of Parliament (MPs), Senators and staff people.  Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz and more than 120 other MPs and Senators from all parties are expected to attend, as are another 300+ attendees including Parliamentary staff, government officials and representatives of other industry associations that the CCA works closely with in Ottawa.

CCA representatives led by President Martin Unrau, along with representatives from the provincial cattle organizations and cattle producers from across the country, will be in attendance to discuss issues of importance to Canadian cattle producers over lunch.

Held in the East Block open air courtyard, the event serves up slow roasted Canadian beef striploin on a bun with typical country side dishes.  The Canadian Meat Council graciously provides the beef and the CCA thanks them for the donation.

In addition to the discussions to take place over a beef on a bun, producers will be taking the opportunity to have several one-on-one meetings with their MP and other important decision makers in Ottawa.

This is the fifth time in the last seven years that the CCA has held this event (Parliament did not sit in the fall of 2007 or 2008) and it has become such a great success that MPs look forward each year to enjoying some of the best beef they have ever eaten and spending time with the producers who travel to Ottawa.

Apart from being a great opportunity to showcase Canadian beef on Parliament Hill, there are many important policy issues on which the CCA is constantly communicating to MPs, Senators and government officials. This fall picnic event complements the regular fly-in days done by the CCA and its provincial members as well as ongoing efforts of CCA leadership and staff.

Key issues under discussion at the event include the impact of severe weather on the cattle sector exacerbated by ethanol mandates, Growing Forward 2, U.S. Country of Origin Labelling, various trade issues including negotiations with Europe, Korea and Japan, labour shortages and legislative bills of interest to cattle producers such as the Food Safety Bill and amendments to the Species at Risk Act. Clearly there is a lot to talk about on behalf of cattle producers and the CCA is actively engaged in doing so.


Steaks for Soldiers – CFB Shilo

Canfax Market Briefs

The CCA will be on hand to support the next Steaks for Soldiers event, to be held on October 13 at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Shilo in Manitoba. Approximately 1,500, 10 ounce-New York Medallion steaks will be served during CFB Shilo's Family Day event.

The Steaks for Soldiers campaign is one of the most popular events that the CCA is involved with; 650 people, 97 per cent of whom are cattle producers, have donated nearly $120,000 to this important campaign since the first CCA sponsored event at CFB Petawawa in 2007.

Harvey Dann and his daughter, Jackie Dann, owners of Alert Agri Distributors Inc., partnered with the CCA in 2009 to spearhead fundraising for the campaign. Dann said the cattle producers he has approached for support are more than willing to show their appreciation for the Canadian Forces through contributing funds while directors from provincial cattle organizations have volunteered their time to help serve at the events. Canada Beef Inc. representatives also volunteer their expertise to help oversee the preparation of the beef to ensure an excellent eating experience, he said.

"This campaign began as a way for cattle producers to show their continued appreciation for the Canadian Forces. I am pleased with the continued high level of support from producers, provincial cattle organizations and the industry," he said.

The CCA became involved with the Steaks for Soldiers events in 2007, when the first troop rotation came back from Afghanistan. The CCA sponsored the 1,700 steaks served to the returning troops of the Royal Canadian Regiment and their families at CFB Petawawa. This original event was held as a way for Canadian beef producers to express their gratitude for the service of the Canadian troops by treating them to a great steak dinner.

The CCA teamed up with Dann to put forth a joint effort to repeat and expand the original event at CFB Petawawa to all major CFB's across Canada. This is the second time that the Steaks for Soldiers campaign has shown its appreciation for the troops at CFB Shilo. The upcoming event comes four months after the last Steaks for Soldiers show of appreciation at CFB Edmonton.


Five Nations Beef Alliance 2012 conference

The CCA had the honour of hosting the Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA) 2012 conference in Banff, Alberta earlier this month. As a member of the FNBA, the CCA works with like-minded cattle organizations to address fundamental issues within the industry that have no borders. Indeed the overriding principle of the FNBA is "to exceed global consumers' expectations in respect to beef, while eliminating non-scientific and political trade restrictions."

The CCA welcomed member countries Australia, Mexico, New Zealand and the U.S. and their respective associations, the Cattle Council of Australia; Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas; Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. The FNBA represents producers from countries that account for one-third of global beef production. The role of the FNBA is to develop strategies that address the mutual concerns of its members and ensure that global beef trade increases.

The conference was well attended, with CCA President Martin Unrau, Vice-President Dave Solverson, Past-President Travis Toews and Executive Vice President Dennis Laycraft on board to meet with representatives from Alliance member country organizations.

During the two-day conference participants heard from each member country organization about the current situation and challenges in their cattle industry. Sustainable production made for a particularly poignant discussion point this year given the impact of widespread drought in the U.S. and parts of Canada, in addition to concerns about water. The impact of the U.S. drought in terms of the resulting upward price pressure on feed grains and corn was also discussed.

Updates were provided on animal identification and traceability, including a presentation on Canada's comprehensive program, the Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS). During his overview, BIXS program manager Larry Thomas told participants that there are more than 700,000 detailed carcass records in the BIXS database. The information is linked to the animal's Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) tag ID number. This computer vision system camera-derived data includes such economically important information as hot carcass weight, yields and quality grades, marbling scores, ribeye areas and more. This information is only available to registered BIXS users on the animals they have submitted data on in the system. Thomas added that BIXS is presently funded through the Agricultural Flexibility Fund of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, so the system and the data provided comes at no charge.

There was an excellent roundtable discussion on animal welfare and how it impacts global trade. CCA Manager of Federal and Provincial Relations and animal care committee staff person Ryder Lee highlighted developments on the international front. Among those to watch are the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) beef standard. Adopted last year, the beef standard is the first animal care standard adopted by the OIE. The OIE Global Conference on animal welfare in Kuala Lumpur in November is another item to watch. The conference theme is 'Implementing the OIE Standards' – mostly animal health standards like controlling stray dogs – but as the beef cattle industry is the only industry that has an animal welfare standard, it's important to watch to see how it will be used, said Lee.

Also on the watch list – The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and OIE recently agreed to work together on developing and putting forward their standards. It remains to be seen if ISO is something that would add value to animal care practices, programs or outcomes.

The FNBA Young Rancher's Program had Canadian participants; Jake Meyer, Kim McCaw and Sheldon Kyle from the Cattlemen's Young Leaders Program. The Young Ranchers will work towards creating a working document defining the industry as they want to see in 10 years and a vision for the future. As well, they will carry the tradition of producing positive videos highlighting the many attributes of the beef industry with a theme of sustainability.

The next FNBA conference will be held in Australia.


The Global Cattle Cycle

Canfax Research Services presents the fourth fact sheet in the series sponsored by Merck Animal Health.

Global cattle inventories have declined 2.8 per cent since 2004. Global beef production has declined only 0.6 per cent, with productivity gains offsetting some of the decline in numbers. As productivity gains occur in reproductive efficiency, survival rates and carcass weights, fewer cows are actually needed to produce the same amount of beef. It also means that for every cow removed from the herd a larger volume of beef is being removed and further productivity gains are needed to offset the loss.

Global inventories appear to have stabilized in 2012 as higher prices have slowed and/or stopped the liquidation that has been occurring in many countries. However, in the current market situation of record high crop prices, everything is about relative margins. Even if beef cattle are profitable expansion may not occur in these countries if crops provide an even higher return on land, capital and labour. Profitability has simply prevented further declines as producers maintain a level of diversification for risk management and land stewardship purposes. Producers, particularly in regions where mixed production dominates, are choosing the commodity that provides the highest return. Consequently, expansion of the beef herd domestically and globally is expected to be slower than in the past.

This special issue looks the cattle cycles around the world in other beef exporting and importing countries. It examines what this means for future supplies and demand from these countries and the implications on global trade. The full document is available at http://canfax.ca/FactSheets.aspx


Genomics 101

Genomics, the study of DNA sequences, has received a lot of interest and research investment in the beef and cattle industry.  Genomics is important to the industry, especially the seedstock sector, because it has the potential to substantially reduce production costs and improve the value of beef and cattle.  For example, if DNA tests could accurately predict the genetic merit of a potential breeding animal (for mature cow size, feed efficiency or tenderness, for example), culling decisions could be made at birth and save the breeder a lot of time, effort and expense.  Read more…


CCA Action News

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

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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 83,000 Canadian beef cattle producers.

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