Volume 8 Issue 5 • December 3rd, 2012

In This Issue ...


CCA tribute to Neil Jahnke

Neil Jahnke, a life-long champion of the Canadian cattle and beef industry, passed away Monday at the age of 70 at his ranch near Gouldtown, Saskatchewan. Neil will be remembered by many as a visionary leader who took a long-term approach to the industry with a firm focus on building towards the future.

The consummate cowboy, Neil was known for his traditional cowboy dress, his passionate opinions and the way he carried himself in leadership roles with nearly every significant cattle organization in Saskatchewan and Canada. Neil's decades of service to the industry include time with the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association, where he served a term as president; the Canada Beef Export Federation, as chairman 1993-1996, the Beef Information Centre, the Saskatchewan Livestock Association and the Horned Cattle Purchases Act Committee. In 2001 Neil received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit for his contributions to Saskatchewan and its residents; and in 1994 an Honorary Life Membership in the Agricultural Institute of Canada.

Neil was with the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) for more than six years, including as President from 2002-2004 -- a very challenging time in the industry. While chairman of the CCA foreign trade committee, Neil helped lead the successful defence of the Canadian cattle industry against anti-dumping allegations from the Montana-based protectionist group R-CALF. Neil's role as an industry defender in this matter saw him serve as a witness at international trade tribunal hearings, speak at Can-AM issues forums and of course connect with producers in meetings explaining the CCA defence strategy.

Neil's exemplary leadership through the BSE crisis is what CCA President Martin Unrau recalls. "It's one thing being a leader when things are going well, but being a leader when things come unglued is quite admirable. Neil did a great job; he kept the industry held together and they (Neil and Dennis Laycraft) steered us through that difficult time," he said.

Dennis Laycraft, CCA executive vice-president, added that Neil "stood tall" as President of the CCA as they worked to get the U.S. border open in the aftermath of the May 2003 detection of BSE. Their numerous trips back and forth to Washington and their meetings and advocacy work led by Neil ultimately resulted in the U.S. reopening its border to UTM beef that August, he said.

"The Canadian industry will be forever grateful for Neil's unwavering leadership during the very difficult days following the 2003 Canadian BSE discovery," added Travis Toews, CCA President from 2010-2012.

Stan Eby, CCA president from 2004 to 2006, said Neil was very independent and did not encourage government involvement with the industry. However, during BSE "he certainly went to bat and welcomed government support," which meant putting aside his personal feelings about government programs for the greater good of Canada's cattle producers.

Brad Wildeman, who served as CCA president from 2008 to 2010, said all Neil's roles were about building towards the future.

"Even in our darkest hours of BSE, he would tell me that the industry will survive, and it will grow to the size the marketplace would support. His biggest concern during that period was that we not do something that would yield short term benefits but place our industry in a non-competitive position over time, hampered by increased costs of regulation in exchange for a short term benefit. I think as we deal today with some of the government desire for more regulations, his words were pretty prophetic," Wildeman said.

Former CCA President Hugh Lynch-Staunton (2006-2008) recalled Neil had unshakable faith in free markets and minimal government. "He was a great example for independent cattlemen. He was good company and a man to share a drink with," he said.

Neil worked with government parties of all political persuasions with equal effectiveness. Rather than avoid those that didn't agree with his beliefs, in many instances he sought them out so he could understand where they were coming from.

Neil never missed an opportunity for a good discussion or friendly debate. This open-minded attitude helped him amass an impressive array of industry contacts in Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia and indeed around the world, establishing himself as one of the key figures in the Canadian industry. A lot of these relationships led to the foundation of work accomplished today through groups like the Five Nations Beef Alliance.

Neil kept relationships with industry stakeholders long after his official duties ceased, reflecting his love of people. His dedication and service to the cattle industry was to be recognized again next week, when Neil was to receive a Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal.

His legacy will be evidenced in the number of cattlemen, particularly younger people, that he inspired and encouraged to become active in promoting and protecting his beloved industry. He urged his fellow cattleman that rather than sit home and complain, that they needed to get out and work to change their circumstances, or at least support those organizations that do. That influence will be felt for many years to come by those that have accepted that challenge. 

The industry has lost one of its greatest advocates. He will be truly missed by many.

The CCA extends its sympathy to Neil's wife Marilyn, daughter J.J. and son Shane.


CCA Town Hall series continues to draw crowds

Nearly 100 producers and other guests interested in the Canadian beef industry attended the latest CCA Town Hall meeting in Kamloops, BC. The November 22 meeting was the fourth CCA Town Hall sponsored by Farm Credit Canada since the inaugural event in October 2011.

The latest Town Hall, hosted in partnership with the British Columbia Cattlemen's Association (BCCA) and emceed by BCCA President David Haywood-Farmer, provided southern B.C. cattle producers with an update on the latest activities and most pressing issues the CCA is involved in on behalf of Canada's 83,000 beef cattle producers. The meeting also provided the opportunity for CCA representatives to hear concerns and questions directly from producers.

The audience heard reports from CCA's Vice President, Dave Solverson, and staff from the CCA and its divisions. Solverson spoke about CCA's priorities of industry profitability, positively positioning the importance of sustainable cattle production, and crisis management. He also provided updates on foreign trade work in the EU, Korea and Japan, and explained CCA's role during the closure of the XL Foods facility in Brooks, AB, and optimism surrounding the entry of JBS USA as a major player in the Canadian market.

Ryder Lee, CCA's Manager of Federal Provincial Relations, provided updates and answered questions on animal health and welfare issues, and initiatives by the Value Creation & Competitiveness, Domestic Ag Policy & Regulations and Environment committees. Attendees were interested in learning more about the Alberta Cattle Price Insurance Program (CPIP) that CCA is working to have delivered nationally, as well as details on AgriStability, AgriInvest, and AgriInsurance.

Manager and Senior Analyst of Canfax, Brian Perillat, provided a comprehensive market update. He spoke about the impact of the U.S. drought which is expected to lead to over a 10 per cent decline in U.S. beef production in 2014 compared to 2010, and current high prices for all categories of Canadian cattle.

Tracy Sakatch with the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) provided an overview of the BCRC's activities and highlighted some of the numerous benefits of investments in beef research, such as production competitiveness, consumer demand and confidence, public education about modern beef production, and science-based regulation, policy and trade.

Jolene Noble, the Cattlemen's Young Leaders (CYL) Development Program Coordinator provided on overview of the program, then introduced two CYL mentees from B.C., Erika Strande and Cole Bailey. Both young leaders were very articulate and enthusiastic about their involvement in and gratitude for the program, urging the crowd to encourage other young producers or agriculture students to take advantage of the networking and mentorship opportunity, which is now accepting applications.

The CCA has continually received positive feedback on Town Hall meetings hosted in partnership with provincial cattle associations. Producers who attend the meetings often comment that they appreciate the ability to engage directly with CCA representatives and develop a deeper appreciation of the scope of work that the CCA does on their behalf.

Sponsorship from Farm Credit Canada enables the CCA to hold town hall events through to 2014. Details on upcoming CCA town halls will be available at www.cattle.ca/townhall.


BIXS hits milestone with launch of carcass data reporting

Canfax Market Briefs

The Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS) recently activated two reporting tools for registered producers to generate detailed carcass data reports on their cattle registered onto the BIXS database. The tools allow users to see detailed carcass data lists as well as a benchmark report on their carcass data. These and other recent developments represent milestones in the evolution and delivery of the BIXS to the Canadian beef industry.

Currently the BIXS database houses approximately 1.5 million detailed carcass data records linked to Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) tag numbers. Cargill Foods and XL Beef are submitting these computer vision system camera-derived records retroactive to January 1, 2012. This data includes yield and quality grades, carcass measures such as marbling score, ribeye area, and fat depth.

BIXS staff along with cooperating beef producers developed and tested the reporting tools that provide registered users with the carcass data lists and benchmark reports "We are grateful for the assistance of those beef producers who stepped up to help us develop and test these reporting functions," says BIXS program administrator Holly LaBrie. "It took us awhile to get it right but those producers, and others that have tapped into their individual animal carcass data thus far, have welcomed the new ability to see what kind of beef they produce from their cow-calf operations."

The reporting functions within BIXS will continue to evolve to include more carcass data as well as feedlot data as development and testing continues.

To complement the new tools, the CCA and BIXS teamed up with the CCIA to build an additional data tool that enables users to quickly import their tag ID and cattle birthdate data into the system.

BIXS registered producers can simply click a button to import all their cattle tag ID and birthdate records from their CCIA – Canadian Livestock Tracking System (CLTS) account retroactive to January 1, 2010 and populate their BIXS cattle (tag ID) inventory. Once the information is in the system, users can generate carcass data reports using the newly launched carcass data report tools.

Carcass records in the BIXS database are from Jan 1, 2012 onwards. However, it is possible that carcass data on cattle born from May 2010 onwards could be in the carcass data pool in BIXS , provided the cattle were slaughtered at Cargill or XL Beef.

Registered BIXS users will find the CCIA data pull tool at the bottom of the 'Enter Your Data' birthdate event landing page. Each time a user 'pulls' data they see a log of events found/created and updated in their BIXS account from their CLTS account.


CCA youth mentorship program's popularity sparks innovative evolution

The Cattlemen's Young Leaders (CYL) program is all about developing potential leaders, so it made perfect sense to create a new category of potential mentors seeking a right-fit candidate for a mentorship opportunity. The recently introduced 'Future Mentors' page on the CYL website enables the CYL to broaden its base of mentors who see value in the CCA's youth mentorship program and are looking for a candidate with specific attributes to take on as a mentee, be it in this program year or one in the future.

CYL Program Coordinator Jolene Noble cited the growing popularity of the national mentorship program as the main driver behind the innovative new offering. The Future Mentors category benefits all involved, with the expansion to potential mentors creating added incentive for up and coming leaders to apply to the program while helping industry partners meet specific needs.

Canadian Western Agribition (CWA) is among the first agriculture events to join on as a Future Mentor. The CYL program and CWA share similar goals, values, and objectives when it comes to investing in youth and the future of the beef industry in Canada, so teaming up in this fashion made sense, Noble said.

"Agribition's commitment to mentor when the appropriate candidate comes along is welcomed. This impressive event is multifaceted and would offer a CYL candidate a wealth of opportunities," she said.

The full selection of potential mentors can be found on a new page on the CYL website called Future Mentors. The CYL program is open to beef enthusiasts between the ages of 18 to 35. Those interested in applying for the 2013-2014 program year can do so online at www.cattlemensyoungleaders.com. The deadline for applications is January 25, 2013.


CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: Larry Thomas, Tracy Sakatch
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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