Volume 8 Issue 9 • January 28th, 2013

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In This Issue ...

 

U.S. activist group misrepresents Canadian meat safety

The U.S. activist group, Food & Water Watch, has been unequivocal in stating their desire to undermine the Canada - U.S. Beyond the Border initiative established by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama. The organization, known to oppose food imports into the U.S., recently appeared on CBC's Power & Politics television show and stated that they "are actively trying to kill" a meat re-inspection pilot project under the Beyond the Border Action Plan that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to implement.

Unfortunately, Food & Water Watch has resorted to misrepresenting this pilot project in their effort to derail it.

Under current procedures, Canadian meat exported to the U.S. must be produced in a federally inspected Canadian plant deemed equivalent to U.S. standards, just as U.S. meat exported to Canada must be produced in a U.S. federally inspected establishment. However, in addition, after clearing U.S. Customs, all Canadian meat exported to the U.S. is required to transit to a privately owned inspection facility near the border, known as an I-House, where all trucks are opened, their import documents verified by the USDA, and approximately one in ten shipments are re-inspected before proceeding to a federally inspected facility for further processing.

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) believes that improved coordination by government regulators and more timely approval processes on both sides of the border would help to eliminate a differential in regulatory operating environments as a factor influencing where cattle are raised and processed. The pre-clearance initiative in the Beyond the Border Action Plan is a pilot project to test one such concept. In brief, it would enable review of import documents prior to a shipment's arrival at the U.S. border and consider alternative methods for the release of shipments destined for further processing in the U.S. at an FSIS official establishment. Throughout the operation of this pilot, both USDA and CFIA are committed to maintaining at least the same level of food safety as is currently realized.

The pilot project will start with a narrow scope; consisting of a small number of CFIA-registered establishments, which may vary in size, that export fresh meat (beef and pork) products directly to FSIS-inspected establishments for further processing.

The documentation for shipments of fresh product for further processing from those CFIA-registered establishments that participate in the pilot project will be reviewed before arrival at the U.S. port of entry and entries randomly selected either to transit to an I-House for re-inspection or to proceed directly to an FSIS inspected plant where the product will be subject to physical examination before being further processed. Re-inspection rates will be unchanged so the difference will be that those entries not subject to re-inspection will be subject to physical examination at the U.S. processing plant rather than at an I-House. For those shipments selected for re-inspection at an I-House, as the documentation associated with them would have already been reviewed, the intact shipment would move to the destined processing establishment after sampling, where it would remain under the control of the importer until the sample results are received. The current import re-inspection process will not change for CFIA-registered establishments not participating in the pilot program.

Food & Water Watch's stated concern that the pilot project places food safety at risk is simply not true. Indeed, when confronted by the fact that any deficiencies in shipments are just as likely to be detected by USDA inspectors at the final destination as they are at an I-House, their only argument is that it would be better to save the occasional truck the trip to that destination. Quite contrary to that suggestion however is the reality that almost all Canadian meat shipments are in compliance with USDA requirements and the 'saved trip' would in fact be too rare an event to outweigh the benefit of saving tens of thousands of trips per year to an I-House for a service that can be performed just as well at final destination.

Food & Water Watch has attempted to divert attention from the facts by producing sensational photos of meat that appear to be shipped in damaged packaging or are otherwise unsuitable. There is no way of verifying the circumstances under which these photos were taken or if they even are of shipments from Canada. Furthermore, CCA has received expert advice that at least one of the photos has been altered.

The CCA is concerned that the media and public could be misled by Food & Water Watch's misinformation and it is particularly concerning that they appear to have utilized fabricated photo images to attempt to undermine a potentially beneficial initiative before it has been properly evaluated.

 

CCA support helped land U.S.-Canada zoning agreement for FAD's

Earlier this month, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz announced that Canada and the U.S. intend to recognize each other's zoning measures during highly contagious foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreaks. The move will help to minimize trade disruptions and prevent the spread of disease should a highly contagious FAD outbreak occur.

Part of the Joint Action Plan of the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) announced in 2011, the initiative seeks to better align the two countries' regulations to enhance economic competitiveness while protecting animal health, public health and safety and environmental protection.

The CCA supported this endeavour through its significant contributions to the West Hawk Lake Zoning Initiative. The multi-year project managed by the Canadian Animal Health Coalition provided valuable input into the RCC agreement recognizing the U.S and Canada's respective zoning capability in the event of a FAD outbreak that impacts either countries ability to export livestock and/or livestock products.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, under the agreement if Canada were to establish a disease control and eradication zone anywhere within the country, the United States Department of Agriculture would continue to allow imports of live animals, animal products and by-products from disease-free areas of Canada. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency added that once Canada released the zone, "the U.S. would allow trade to resume from that area. Reciprocal arrangements would apply in the case of zones established anywhere in the U.S."

This arrangement will enhance response and recovery from FAD disease outbreaks and support our economic competitiveness.  A FAD outbreak could wreak havoc on the Canadian livestock industry if we did not have the capability to zone specified parts of the country.

Some research suggests the financial ramifications of a large-scale Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak to the Canadian livestock industry could range from $11.5 to $45.9 billion, while other estimates have put the economic impact at $30 billion. Having an effective zoning and traceability system in place could reduce the economic impact by as much as 50 per cent.

 

CCA joins AMTE campaign

The CCA has partnered with Farm Credit Canada (FCC) on the Agriculture More Than Ever (AMTE) campaign, an initiative aimed at improving perceptions about agriculture through showcasing the industry's positive attributes.

The CCA understands the value in communicating the benefits of beef cattle production to the public, especially in areas like sustainability, environment and animal care. FCC and AMTE partners like the CCA are collaborating to educate the public, respond to misguided perceptions and celebrate Canadian agriculture by telling its true stories. More than 100 partners have signed on to the campaign to date.

As an AMTE partner, the CCA will continue to ensure that animal agriculture is properly understood and that the public is presented with an accurate view of the industry. The beef cattle industry is an important driver of the Canadian economy, generating $33 billion worth of sales of goods and services either directly or indirectly, as well as 228,811 jobs.

To learn more about the AMTE initiative, visit http://www.agriculturemorethanever.ca.

 

New research investments within the Beef Science Cluster under Growing Forward 2

Canfax Market Briefs

The Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster is a partnership between Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC), which operates as a division of the CCA, to ensure that proactive and strategic investments in applied research are allocated to programs that have the greatest potential to move the Canadian beef cattle sector forward. The BCRC developed the first Cluster under Growing Forward in 2009. Joint industry and government funding commitments through the Cluster totaled $11.25 million directed to 32 research programs, which will be completed March 31, 2013.

The proposal for the Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster under Growing Forward 2 (GF2) was recently submitted to AAFC. The CCA looks forward to working with AAFC to ensure implementation of the proposed program by April 1.

The BCRC's proposal for the Science Cluster under GF2 builds on the successful momentum of the first. Investments will be focused on a portfolio of research that contribute to the industry's ability to meet the growing global demand for high quality, safe beef through responsible and profitable production practices that support a sustainable future for the Canadian beef cattle industry. The establishment of proposed research programs under the second Science Cluster was an extensive process initiated by the development of a comprehensive National Beef Research Strategy.  Investments in the second Science Cluster will lead to several benefits.

To maintain or improve competitiveness in the production of beef cattle, Science Cluster research will examine issues related to animal health, feed efficiency and feed production. One example is the development of a western Canadian disease surveillance network to provide timely information on a variety of areas such as biosecurity, disease prevalence, animal welfare practices, antibiotic use, and herd nutrition and management. Another proposed project will develop new feed grain varieties, with a focus on enhanced feed quality, yield and disease resistance.

Other Science Cluster research will support science-based policy, regulation and trade. For example, research will evaluate whether antimicrobial use contributes to antimicrobial resistance in cattle, downstream environments, retail beef and humans, and further demonstrate the industry's leadership role in promoting responsible antimicrobial stewardship.

Research supporting science-based public education and advocacy will address concerns regarding modern beef production. An activity to define the environmental footprint of the Canadian beef industry will quantify the positive contributions forages and cattle make to watersheds, biodiversity, ecosystems, critical wildlife habitat, and natural carbon sequestration. This will provide a more informed perspective of the beef industry's environmental footprint and identify opportunities for further improvement.  Another proposed project will study the effect of age and handling of beef cattle on pain, as well as pain mitigation during routine management procedures. This will provide the scientific knowledge required to make sound, practical management recommendations that may be included in the national Beef Cattle Code of Practice, and abate public pressure that can lead to unsound recommendations.

To support the Canadian Beef Advantage, a National Beef Quality Audit will measure consumer satisfaction and product quality, and identify opportunities to further increase carcass value. Other work will evaluate whether practical, effective food safety interventions developed under the first Science Cluster are being appropriately adopted and implemented in commercial plants.

The knowledge dissemination and technology transfer strategy initiated under the first Science Cluster will continue to encourage increased industry adoption of new innovations while enhancing BeefResearch.ca by incorporating videos, webinars and decision making tools, and promoting and enabling the engagement of researchers with industry. Read more…

 

CCA Annual General Meeting


Registration is now open for the CCA Annual General Meeting, to be held in Ottawa from March 5-8, 2013. The event will once again be held at the National Hotel and Suites at 361 Queen Street. Producers and industry representatives are invited and encouraged to attend. Click here to review the agenda. For more information contact the CCA office at 403.275.8558, ext. 405 or email jenkinsp@cattle.ca.

 

CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: John Masswohl, Andrea Brocklebank
Written, edited and compiled by: Gina Teel and Matthew French


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