Volume 8 Issue 3 • November 5th, 2012

In This Issue ...


CCA provides input on Bill S-11

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) appeared before the House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food in Ottawa last week regarding Bill S-11, or the Safe Food for Canadians Act. Dennis Laycraft, CCA executive vice president and Ryder Lee, manager of federal provincial relations, appeared on behalf Canada's 83,000 beef cattle producers.

The CCA believes S-11 is a positive step in the continuous improvement of the Canadian food safety system, which as it stands is world class. This legislative step complements the regulatory modernization process now going on at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The CCA supports these dual steps as they are important to the competitiveness of beef farmers and ranchers. Increasing uniformity of regulation, consistency of enforcement and enabling stronger reaction to tampering and other issues that endanger our food are all positive steps S-11 enables.

Laycraft, also industry co-chair of the Beef Value Chain Roundtable and the industry co-chair of the Agri-Subcommittee on Food Safety, told the committee that the ensuing regulations from this legislative change will be important. "How meat and foods are traced through the system is important to primary producers as we have learned in the past couple of months. We hope the contents of this bill and its ensuing regulations can enable improved response, remedies and resumption of production when inadequacies are discovered in the future," he commented.

The bill also amends the Health of Animals Act regarding the traceability of live animals. The CCA has long been a supporter of national individual animal identification and has been working with governments towards implementing the next steps of animal traceability.

Bill S-11 also fits into the bigger legislative and regulatory agenda, Laycraft noted. As part of the current agenda the CCA appreciates the government's commitment to a one for one regulatory regime where new regulations have to be offset by eliminating the same amount of regulations. The CCA is also highly supportive of the Regulatory Cooperation Council with the U.S. and urges lawmakers to do what they can to ensure this undertaking lives up to its potential. "As the regulations are drafted with these commitments in mind we will work with government to ensure Canadian competitiveness is improved along with improving food safety," Laycraft told the committee.

The bill was scheduled to be back before the House of Commons for a third reading last week.


CETA finish-line in sight?

The CCA was in Brussels again recently for what may have been the last full blown negotiating round toward a Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). It appears that the negotiators are steadily reducing the number of unresolved subject areas, but the work is getting harder and harder as they deal with the most politically sensitive areas for both sides.  Access for Canadian beef to the EU continues to be one of the very difficult areas that is unlikely to be resolved until the very end of the negotiations.  The CCA continues to hold firm that cattle producers' support for a CETA will depend on whether real and meaningful access is achieved. This means addressing the high EU tariffs on beef as well as technical issues that prevent Canadian meat processing facilities from being approved to export to the EU.

There is a strong push to complete the negotiations before the end of the year, and perhaps even before the end of November.  The CCA will continue working closely with the negotiators and Ministers to ensure that if a CETA is reached, it will be one that Canadian beef cattle producers can support.


CCA attends provincial association producer meetings

Canfax Market Briefs

Despite some challenging winter weather and poor driving conditions, CCA Manager of Federal Provincial Relations, Ryder Lee, made it to Brock and Turtleford in Saskatchewan and Veteran and Breton in Alberta during the week of October 22 for producer meetings.  

Aside from a winter storm impacting the turn-out in Turtleford, meetings were well attended.  Questions and discussion were raised about XL Foods Inc. and the media and political reaction to the events of the last two months. There is a high level of producer anger and frustration with the level of misinformation and unhelpful rhetoric created by media and parliamentarians.  Producers are anxious to get the plant up and running so they can be buying cattle and producing safe Canadian beef.  

Discussions also covered traceability, international trade, U.S. Country of Origin Labelling, the beef code of practice and the refundable Alberta check-off.  These meetings are a good opportunity to let producers hear about and to ask questions about the many areas of CCA activity.  Overall the meetings were fairly positive in nature, with the news that JBS USA, an arm of JBS S.A., the world's largest animal protein producer, had taken over the management of the Brooks, AB facility and was in the process of restarting operations. The entry of JBS USA has helped to remove a lot of uncertainty in the countryside.


Interventions to reduce and manage E.coli O157:H7

The beef recall at XL Foods Inc. put the spotlight on additional E.coli interventions, with a good deal of the focus on the E.coli vaccine licensed in Canada. The CCA believes that research is required to verify that the vaccination of cattle has a public health benefit by comparing beef products made from vaccinated and unvaccinated animals. The need for this work is also recognized by public health authorities. Another consideration is that the vaccine does not reduce shedding by cattle of other types of pathogenic E.coli.  These strains include the six additional types of E.coli (the so-called Big Six) that U.S. and Canadian beef processors are now required to test for in addition to E.coli O157:H7.  Unlike the vaccine, other types of food safety interventions such as irradiation, antimicrobial sprays or carcass pasteurization can reduce all types of food borne pathogens.

Challenges around the practical application of the vaccine – and not cost as was implied in some media coverage - have also tempered its use in the industry as a critical control point. The need for three separate injections spaced over a period of time plus a withdrawal period, and preventing vaccinated cattle from mixing with unvaccinated animals or those shedding E.coli; a determination that can't be made visually, are the significant challenges cited by industry.

More than a decade ago, cattle producers submitted an application for the approval of ground beef irradiation to Health Canada recognizing that this is a proven and highly effective intervention. While Health Canada's scientific review of our application was successfully completed, final approval has not yet been received. The CCA believes that Canadians should have the choice to purchase irradiated ground beef, as consumers in the U.S. do currently.

Canadian cattle producers strongly support the ultimate objective of reducing, and if possible eliminating, E. coli related illness associated with beef. The Canadian cattle industry has made financial contributions to the development of the current vaccine and has instigated ongoing research projects which examine the effectiveness of multiple types of pre-harvest (on-farm) interventions. Currently, we are awaiting results of a trial which compares the effectiveness of the vaccine to a probiotic product mixed in feed. We have assembled an expert advisory of North American scientists from industry, government and academia to help us understand developments in the area of pre-harvest food safety interventions. In addition, Canadian cattle producers are providing financial support to research relating to food safety interventions which can be used inside processing facilities.


CFIA makes changes to the Canada and Alberta BSE Surveillance Program

It has been more than nine years since the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Canada and though confirmed cases both in Canada and globally continue to decline BSE surveillance remains important. As more foreign markets open up for Canadian beef it is crucial for the industry to be vigilant and continue with BSE surveillance.

Surveillance is a crucial piece to confirming the effectiveness of the control measures Canada has in place to eradicate BSE from the national herd. A robust surveillance program with a high level of testing also demonstrates to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) that Canada is effectively maintaining its controlled risk status for BSE.

Producers can do their part by continuing to participate in BSE surveillance. The CFIA has made changes to the Canada and Alberta BSE Surveillance Program (CABSESP) this year to encourage a much higher level of participation.

Starting November 1, 2012 the CABSESP will once again be accepting cattle in Alberta that are over thirty months (OTM) without an upper age limit that are down, diseased, dying or deceased. The previous restriction of a 30 day possession has also been eliminated. As such cattle producers can now submit their animals for testing as long as they are OTM and fall into any of the high risk categories. All other eligible criteria for the high risk categories as well as the $75 reimbursement to producers to have an animal assessed are unchanged. Cattle producers with eligible animals are encouraged to call a licensed veterinarian certified by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development to assess the animals at no cost.

It is expected that these new changes will result in more cattle being tested for BSE in Alberta.
The CFIA has reported that national BSE surveillance numbers have decreased in recent years. In 2005 more than 57,000 samples were collected from cattle with only a slight decrease the following year. By 2008 the numbers had declined to about 48,000 samples. The downward trend appears to be continuing this year. To the end of September, there were 19,943 samples collected this year compared with 27,429 collected during the same period in 2011. For more information on CABSESP, visit their website or call 780-644-3967.


Last chance to register for the Canfax Cattle Market Forum

Canfax, the market analysis division of the CCA, is hosting the Canfax Cattle Market Forum in Calgary on November 13-14. The Canfax Cattle Market Forum will provide perspective on the global factors influencing the Canadian cattle market, along with the cattle market information producers have come to rely on from Canfax.

This first annual Canfax Cattle Market Forum will combine Canadian cattle market information with global perspective on market-related topics including currency markets, commodity fund investors, and beef and competing meat trends. The confluence of market information and world class expertise will assist producers and industry stakeholders in the management of their business and long-term strategic planning.

Canfax creates, provides, and tracks key Canadian cattle market information. The Canfax Cattle Market Forum is open to Canfax members as well as non-members. Click here for more information.


Latest results from antimicrobial resistance surveillance

The Public Health Agency of Canada has completed its most recent report on the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS). This program monitors trends in antimicrobial resistance in beef cattle, swine and broiler chickens, and in meat samples collected from retail stores, with a focus on three bacteria of interest: E.coli, Campylobacter, and Salmonella. Samples are also collected from healthy animals entering federally inspected abattoirs that process cattle (E.coli and Campylobacter), swine (E.coli and Salmonella), and chicken (E.coli, Campylobacter, and Salmonella). All three bacteria are also examined in retail chicken, and only E.coli testing results are reported for retail beef and pork because Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria are so rare in these meats.

Results for the 2011 calendar year are now available. The most recent results are similar to those in previous CIPARS reports. Resistance to ciprofloxacin (an antimicrobial of very high importance in human health) was not found in any of the E.coli isolated from cattle or retail beef, and in less than 1% of the Campylobacter isolated from cattle. Levels of resistance to antimicrobials of very high importance in human health have been extremely low and stable since the CIPARS program was initiated over 10 years ago. To request a copy of the 2011 Antimicrobial Resistance Short Report, visit http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/cipars-picra/pubs-eng.php.


CCA Action News

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

To sign up for CCA's “Action News:”
Visit www.cattle.ca and click on “Sign-up for Action News.”

For more information, contact:

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.

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