Volume 10 Issue 4 • October 7th, 2013

In This Issue ...

 

Impacts of the U.S. Government shut-down on agriculture, COOL

The impacts of the U.S. Government shut-down are many but so far it appears that vital services within U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will not be affected.

At the Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the agriculture quarantine, animal import/export activities and emergency/disaster capabilities are reported to be continuing, as are the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) inspection and grading services. In other words, all food safety inspectors required for meat harvesting will continue to provide services. Also, services funded by user fees such as border clearance of animal and meat shipments will continue.

With respect to the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) lawsuit, COOL personnel have been furloughed however the U.S. Court of Appeals is still operating, with the federal Judiciary to remain open during the government shut-down. Under that contingency plan, the Judiciary will remain open for 10-business days and then reassess its situation and provide further guidance. All proceedings and deadlines remain in effect as scheduled, unless otherwise advised.

There is no impact to the new COOL regulations at this time, given the six month education period. Even with the old COOL rule still in effect, there are no Federal personnel to enforce it but the obligation to comply remains.

 

Other COOL news

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last week granted protectionist group, R-CALF USA, Food & Water Watch, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and Western Organization of Resource Councils a motion to intervene in the U.S. mandatory COOL lawsuit filed by a coalition of meat and livestock organizations in the U.S., Mexico and Canada, including the CCA.

This is the latest development in the COOL litigation commenced by the coalition lawsuit filed on July 8, 2013 seeking to strike down the USDA May 23 revision to the COOL regulation. As part of that lawsuit, on July 22, the coalition filed a Preliminary Injunction motion with the Court to block implementation of the COOL regulation until the case is decided on the merits. The court denied that motion and the coalition filed an appeal, which is pending.

That process was well underway prior to the U.S. Government shutdown and was on target to see the Appeal Court fully briefed on the appeal by November 1, with a hearing to follow on a date to be set by the Court. The coalition requested that the hearing be scheduled in a timely manner, noting that the USDA is to begin enforcement of its amended regulation at the end of November. With the Appeals Court's contingency plan now in operation it's difficult to estimate what, if any, impact there might be on timing.

 

CCA participates in key sustainability meetings

Canfax Market Briefs

Sustainability, particularly around the efficient use of natural resources, is a hot topic in the global livestock industry and a primary focus of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA). The CCA is involved in a number of global sustainability initiatives and is spearheading the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) to ensure that Canada continues to produce beef in an environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable manner. One of the best ways to achieve this outcome is to learn from the best practices of the international livestock industry as well as the latest advances in the global sustainability efforts.

To this end, CCA staff recently participated in key sustainability meetings with cattle, livestock, and meat representatives from around the world to discuss and share ideas and how to better communicate their efforts to each other and to the consuming public.

CCA Manager, Environmental Affairs, Fawn Jackson attended the Global Partnership on Business and Biodiversity meeting in Montreal, CCA director, government and International Relations John Masswohl attended the International Meat Secretariat (IMS) sustainable meat meeting in Paris and Manager, Federal Provincial Relations, Ryder Lee was at the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) in Denver.

Jackson said one thing that clearly emerges from the discussion at these meetings is that cattle producers care deeply about sustaining the land and water under their stewardship and are not only willing to share their best practices, but to learn from others and to undertake research to determine what changes might be the most effective.

The CCA and its partners at the IMS have undertaken with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to update the study on livestock's effect on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The FAO's recently released report, 'Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock, A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities', notes the global livestock sector's contribution to GHG emissions is considerably lower than previously indicated, even though the new report's calculation covers a scientifically revised range of environmental considerations. The report also identifies numerous management practices to further improve environmental efficiencies. These science-based practices have long been utilized by Canada's beef cattle producers.

While this new information provides consumers and the public with a better understanding of the role livestock production plays in the overall emissions picture, it does not adequately outline the clear benefits and offsets inherent within the cattle industry. This will be done in a follow-up report, the Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance Partnership (LEAP), led by the FAO that the CCA and other stakeholders will be involved with.

Canada's beef industry is always looking for additional ways to reduce the footprint of the livestock industry. The CCA is a member of the GRSB and is part of the Global Agenda for Action (GAA) in Support of Sustainable Livestock Sector Development, a multi-stakeholder initiative led by the FAO to work towards more efficient use of natural resources by the global livestock industry.

Canada's beef cattle industry is very focused on responsible resource utilization and we are proud to be counted among the international leaders in this area. Modern efficiencies allow us to produce more beef from fewer cattle and less feed. Improvements in crop and livestock genetics, feed production, processing and utilization technologies enable industry to produce as much beef today as it did 60 years ago, but on 45 million fewer acres. Research will continue to play a strong role in driving further improvements in these areas, with a focus on reducing impacts through improving feed quality and improving herd health and reproduction, methods identified by our science and the FAO as the best ways to lower GHG.

 

Does cow nutrition during pregnancy affect gene expression in the calf?

Traditional wisdom holds that an animal's genetics and the environment it lives in can both affect feed efficiency (and other traits). In contrast, an animal's genes do not directly influence the environment, and the environment does not directly influence an individual's genes. Genetic influences are passed on from parents to offspring, while environmental influences are not. There is growing evidence that the situation is not that straightforward; in some cases the environment may have a direct impact on the expression of an individual's genes. This environmental impact might also be inherited, and is called epigenetics.

Epigenetic effects have seldom been considered in nutritional studies involving pregnant cows and the post-natal growth and development of their calves. This may be important, given the wide year-to-year variations in feed quality and weather conditions that are experienced by beef cows from one year to the next. A recently-completed research project funded by the National Check-off and Canada's Beef Science Cluster examined how the pregnant cow's energy intake during the wintering feeding period affects fetal development and fetal programming, as well as post-natal calf growth and development.

The results of the study suggest that maternal nutrition during pregnancy can result in changes in the methylation and expression of genes that regulate cell growth and differentiation in their fetuses, although no obvious effects were seen in fetal body size or dimensions. The next steps are to determine whether pre-natal nutrition also affects economically important beef production traits.

To learn more about this research, view the BCRC fact sheet here: http://www.beefresearch.ca/factsheet.cfm/does-cow-nutrition-during-pregnancy-affect-gene-expression-in-the-calf-75

 

CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: John Masswohl, Tracy Sakatch, Fawn Jackson
Written, edited and compiled by: Gina Teel


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The Canadian Cattlemen's Association is the national voice for Canada's beef cattle industry representing 68,500 beef farms and feedlots.

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