Volume 8 Issue 11 • February 25th, 2013

In This Issue ...


Opinions fly as deadline looms for U.S. COOL to abide

The U.S. has less than three months to bring its Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) legislation into compliance as directed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body. The subject of exactly how the U.S. will achieve compliance is generating a lot of speculation and debate. Proponents of COOL are advocating that the U.S. can come into compliance with the Appellate Body ruling by amending the COOL regulations, and that changes to the COOL legislation are not necessary to achieve compliance.

These suggestions are false and run counter to the most significant portion of the Appellate Body ruling that the discrimination caused by COOL stems from the fact that different labels are required for meat from cattle and hogs exclusively born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S. than for meat from cattle and hogs born or raised in another country. The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) view is that since this requirement is stated in the COOL legislation, only an amendment to the COOL legislation will constitute an acceptable remedy. It is also the CCA's view that a regulatory amendment is insufficient to achieve compliance and that such an initiative would simply be a further delaying tactic that could lead to retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports to Canada.

Recently, CCA representatives participated at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Annual Convention in Tampa, Florida. The CCA met with representatives from several U.S. state cattle organizations as well as the NCBA leadership and the Mexican cattle producer organization. The CCA described its views on what it would take for the U.S. to comply and also discussed the possibilities for retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. NCBA reconfirmed its opposition to COOL in its current form and passed a policy that establishes resolution of the COOL dispute as one of the high priorities for NCBA to achieve in 2013.


OIE recommends U.S. get negligible risk status

Last week, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. had received notification from the Scientific Commission for the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) recommending that the U.S. risk classification for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) be upgraded to negligible risk, the lowest risk level under the OIE.

A final decision on the U.S. risk classification upgrade will be made at the OIE's annual General Assembly meeting in Paris, France, in May 2013. The U.S. expects that formal adoption of negligible risk status for BSE will occur at that time and CCA would expect that is indeed probable.

This would mean that for the first time, Canada and the U.S. would no longer share the same controlled risk status. The CCA does not expect this to produce any negative impacts on Canada's existing market access, however, it may be that some trading partners could become more willing to expand their market access for U.S. beef, but would hold off offering the same terms to Canadian beef until Canada also achieves negligible risk status.

Moving from controlled risk to negligible risk status is based on several criteria including SRM removal, strength of feed ban, surveillance and previous BSE cases. Negligible risk status also depends on the length of time controls have been in place and how long since the birth year of the last-born BSE case. Canada meets almost all of the criteria for negligible risk status, with the exception that it has not yet been 11 years since the birth year of our latest born BSE case.

Canada's latest born BSE case was born in 2004, so the earliest Canada could be designated by the OIE for a classification upgrade to negligible risk status is 2015 provided we do not discover a later born BSE case before then. Also, we would need to maintain our BSE controls and surveillance at the expected levels.


A last reminder to comment on the Beef Code of Practice

Canfax Market Briefs

The draft Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle has been available for public comment at www.nfacc.ca/codes-of-practice/beef-cattle since January 8th. As of the last update, self-identified animal welfare advocates represented 28 per cent of respondents. Producer perspective on the new requirements is needed before the comment period closes on March 8, 2013 to ensure that the code development committee has a well-rounded view of the issues as it moves to finalize the code later this year.

The code is focussed on anything that may affect cattle welfare, ranging from bull selection to euthanasia. The areas that producers might see as different from their current practices include a requirement to use pain control in older animals when castrating and dehorning. There are other requirements or recommended practices that may differ from current practices. If this is so, it is worth finding out why and commenting on it from the producer perspective so the development committee can weigh this important feedback.

The comment period is a chance for people who were not part of the code drafting process to weigh in on the suggested requirements and recommendations. Many are taking advantage of the opportunity, particularly animal welfare advocates and beef consumers, which is great.

Self-identified animal welfare advocates represented 28 per cent of respondents at the last update. Given that respondents can check off as many identifier boxes as they like, there may be some producers included in that number. About 32 per cent of respondents described themselves as a beef consumer, but many producers likely checked only the boxes identifying their stages of production (ie: cow-calf, feedlot, seedstock, backgrounder).

The B.C. SPCA is also actively encouraging the public to provide input. Their website has this to say about the comment period: "While the draft Equine and Beef Cattle Codes offer dozens of new requirements for improved animal welfare, we encourage members of the public to focus their input on the most contentious issues: painful procedures such as castration, branding and tail docking."

The CCA is encouraging producers to ensure their views are heard as well.


Cattlemen's Young Leaders announces semi-finalists for 2013-14 program

The Cattlemen's Young Leaders (CYL) Development Program recently announced its 2013 national mentorship semi-finalists. The 22 semi-finalists were selected from nearly 70 applicants by the CYL Sub-Committee. Finalists for the 2013-14 program will be selected following a final roundtable session at the CYL Spring Forum, to be held in conjunction with the CCA Annual General Meeting in Ottawa March 5-8.

The 2013 CYL semi-finalists are:
British Columbia: Cuyler Huffman;
Alberta: Amanda Elzinga, Becky Page, Claire Windeyer, Daniel Doerksen, Debra Murphy, Hope Eaton, Jacob Onyschuk, Jordyn Prior, Kelsey Beasley, Shelby Froland, Trevor Alexander;
Saskatchewan: Carla Schmitt, Kelcy Elford, Lance Leachman, Natasha Kutryk;
Manitoba: Andrea Bertholet, Austen Anderson, Carollyne Kehler;
Ontario: Noa Mullin;
New Brunswick: Meghan Black;
Prince Edward Island: Daniel Muir.

The CYL Development program provides industry-specific training and mentorship opportunities to young producers. CYL participants have the opportunity to explore a potential career choice or involvement with a provincial/national producer organization, while gaining the expertise and business acumen necessary to sustain the cattle industry into the future.


Understanding EPDs

Bull buying season is here as evidenced by the proliferation of sales catalogues advertising the next great herdsire.  There are many factors that play a role in choosing a new bull for an operation (visual observation, breed, pedigree, actual birth weight, residual feed intake (RFI), weaning weights, breeding soundness evaluation, etc.). Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) is one tool that can aid in herdsire selection; however, it has led to a lot of confusion since being introduced more than 40 years ago. Let's decipher this valuable tool so producers can expertly evaluate potential herdsires featured in those sale catalogues.

EPDs are estimates of an animal's genetic merit as a parent.  EPDs are the difference between the predicted average performance of an animal's future progeny and the average progeny performance of another animal whose EPD is zero, assuming that the bulls are mated to similar cows, or vice versa.  For example, if Bull A has a birth weight EPD of +9.0 lbs and Bull B has a birth weight EPD of +3.0 lbs, this means that Bull A's calves will have birth weights that are 6 lbs heavier than whatever the birth weight of Bull B's calves are, on average. Continue reading…


CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: John Masswohl, Ryder Lee, Jolene Noble, Karen Schmid
Written, edited and compiled by: Gina Teel and Matthew French

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