Volume 3 Issue 7 • September 13, 2010

In This Issue ...


CCA to attend milestone oral hearing in Canada-Mexico WTO COOL dispute

Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) President Travis Toews, as well as CCA staff and legal counsel will be at the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland, this week for the first oral hearings to the COOL dispute panel. The hearings take place Sept 14-16.

Canfax Market BriefsOn the first day, the Canadian government legal teams will present the Canadian case and answer the panel’s questions. The Mexican team will do likewise while the U.S. government team will defend COOL. The observer countries will make their statements on the second day. The third day will see Canada, Mexico and the U.S. back in front of the panel to answer questions and rebut each other’s presentations.

CCA reps will watch the proceedings from a nearby room so that they are available to provide expert industry advice as needed by the government team. The CCA has worked very closely with the government legal team for the past several months, and is confident that the Canadian arguments and preparation are very strong. Sometimes, on short notice, arguments need to be re-worked or answers developed to unforeseen questions, and having cattle industry reps on hand may make the difference in whether a particular piece of information gets to the top of mind at the right moment. 

These hearings are an important step in the dispute process, but will not produce an immediate decision. There will be a period in October and November for further written information and rebuttals to the panel and a second oral hearing in early December.  A report with the panel’s decision is scheduled for July 2011.


Bank of Canada increases key lending rate another 25 bps to 1 per cent

For the third time since June, the Bank of Canada (BoC) raised its key lending rate by 25 basis points, bumping the overnight rate to 1 per cent. The BoC has increased the overnight rate a total of 75 bps since the start of the tightening cycle in June, when Canada became the first G8 nation to raise interest rates following the global economic meltdown.

Although the overnight rate continues to linger at historic lows, and the language in the Sept. 8 BoC announcement offered no clear direction as to the timing of further interest rate hikes, the move had an immediate impact on the loonie. The Canadian dollar soared nearly one cent against the greenback on the news to close at 96.40 US cents. The Canadian dollar was still gaining on Sept.9, rising as high as 96.89 US cents, on tailwinds of the announcement and rising oil prices.

A strong Canadian dollar is an issue for Canada’s cattle industry, as livestock prices are set in the U.S. and converted for exchange. Finding ways to remain competitive in such an environment is paramount for producers.

Indeed in August, Glen Hodgson, senior vice-president and chief economist, the Conference Board of Canada, told producers to plan for par. At the time, the board’s forecast had the loonie breaking through par this fall and at $1.02 to $1.03 in the first part of 2011. Continued interest rate hikes in Canada and upward pressure on the currency from the U.S. Federal Reserve maintaining near zero interest rates and rising global oil prices, would keep the loonie aloft.

Last week, economists were busy trying to decipher the outlook Canada’s central bank provided with the rate increase announcement. Citing softer than expected economic activity in Canada and a sputtering U.S. economy, the BoC said, “Any further reduction in monetary policy stimulus would need to be carefully considered in light of the unusual uncertainty surrounding the outlook.”

The Bank said it now expects the economic recovery in Canada to be slightly more gradual than projected in July.

The BoC said the global economic recovery is proceeding but remains uneven. In the U.S., the recovery in private demand “is being held back by high unemployment and recent indicators suggest a more muted recovery in the near term.”

Economic activity in Canada was slightly softer in the second quarter than the Bank had expected “although consumption and investment have evolved largely as anticipated.” Going forward, consumption growth is expected to remain solid and business investment to rise strongly.

In a research note, BMO Capital Markets said the tone of the BoC release was “hawkish.” “The Bank of Canada clearly retains its tightening bias, and seems generally unfazed by the recent cooling in the Canadian economy,” wrote Doug Porter, the BMO’s managing director and deputy chief economist.

RBC Economics Research said it expects the Bank “to hold the policy rate at 1 per cent to assess the effect of the 75 bps of tightening undertaken to date on the domestic economy,” Dawn Desjardins, assistant chief economist, RBC Economics, wrote in a research note.

The BoC’s next scheduled date for announcing the overnight rate target is Oct.19, 2010.


Online training proving ‘easy button’ solution for time-pressed users

‘Quick’ and ‘easy to use’ are among the descriptors being used by producers to sum up their experience with the online training workshop developed by Verified Beef Production (VBP), Canada’s beef on-farm food safety program.

Developed in response to requests from producers, the online training program provides all Canadian beef producers the opportunity to learn about the food safety standards that VBP represents and the option of participating in the program’s on-farm validation process.

Rolled out in 2009, the online tool was designed to be simple and easy to use, particularly for the computer-challenged and dial-up Internet users.

User feedback shows producers like the option of being able to download sample records from home and the convenience of completing the material at their own pace. The program remembers where a user left off, and shows the completed information whenever the producer resumes the task.

Online training is available to cattle producers, who must request the option through a provincial VBP coordinator. Nearly 500 producers have requested this option since May 2009, with about a 75 per cent completion rate. Some get the information then find they prefer to go to a workshop, and some do both, reported Terry Grajczyk, VBP national program manager.

The online workshop reviews the standard operating procedures of the VBP program and has a self-review at the end of each section, which producers find useful.  They also like that the VBP Producer Manual’s sample record-keeping forms are available on-line to print or modify for their own operation, she added.

Some producers use this tool as a refresher for the VBP program, while others use it as a way to familiarize the new hire or family members at home with VBP program requirements and recommendations.

Partial funding for development of this online training was provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Food Safety and Quality Program (CFSQP).

While online training is proving to be a success, Grajczyk said the preferred option for most is the live workshop as it provides more background information and learning from producer discussion. Provincial coordinators will be organizing VBP workshops for this fall in the coming months.


Three Canadian beef producers featured in 5 Nations Beef Alliance / Young Ranchers video

A new promotional video from the Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA) – Young Ranchers Program features Canadian beef producers Adam Moseson, Jess Parsonage and CCA staffer, Jill Harvie. The trio do a great job of sharing their stories about why they love the land, raising cattle and feeding the world in the video vignettes, filmed on location at each of their family-run operations in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The video also captures the views of their counterparts from the other FNBA member countries of Australia, the United States, Mexico, and New Zealand, while promoting responsible agricultural practices. The FNBA-Young Ranchers video can be viewed at www.cattlemensyoungleaders.com

Comprised of members from cattle organizations in Canada, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Mexico, the main goal of the alliance is to increase the overall demand for beef, while eliminating non-scientific and political trade restrictions.

Last year, in an effort to engage young committed producers, the FNBA launched the Young Ranchers Program with the Consulate General of Canada in Denver. Held in January during the National Western Stock Show and International Livestock Congress, the event saw young ranchers from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Australia participate in a five-day program with the objective of building an international network.

In June, the CCA announced the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders (CYL) Development Program and Australia has since formed a young producers organization. Members of these groups will attend the second annual Young Ranchers program in Denver Jan. 8 to 15, 2011. For more information, visit the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders website.


Mysterious MRSA

Concerns about Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in food animals have emerged over the past five years. MRSA has been found in dairy cattle, pigs, and veal calves, as well as horses and dogs. Contact with pigs and veal calves has been identified as a risk factor for human MRSA-associated disease in some European countries. MRSA has not been extensively studied in beef cattle, but it has been found in 5.6 per cent of ground beef samples collected in four Canadian provinces.

A recently completed Beef Cattle Research Council project funded by the National Check-off examined how common MRSA was in Canadian feedlots, with surprising results. Click here to learn more about MRSA and what the researchers learned.

CCA Action News

Contributors: John Masswohl, Terry Grajczyk, Jill Harvie, Reynold Bergen
Written, edited and compiled by: Gina Teel and Tracy Sakatch

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