In March, I had the opportunity to attend to the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s (CCA) Animal Health and Care Committee annual meeting virtually on March 17, 2021. There were many topics discussed and I will highlight some of them that I think would be interesting to young producers.
First was the ongoing discussion of a vaccine bank in case of a foot and mount disease outbreak. At this point in time Canada does not have enough vaccines in the event of an emergency situation. CCA is strongly encouraging the government for a vaccine bank.
An Ultra High Frequency tag trial at the Picture Butte Feeder Cooperation started in 2020. It is a trial put on by the feeder association for use in feedlots in a commercial environment. It will be expanded to five other locations in 2021 as well. There was also discussion from a trial participant and he was very positive about it so far.
There’s a new rest stop facility near Kapiskasing ONT, called the Feed and Water Cow Mootel. This rest stop has been in operation since fall 2020 and currently has the capacity for 3-4 semi-trailers of feeder cattle, with ability to expand if demand is there.
There was an update on Transport Canada’s changes to the Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations. These regulations come into effect in June 2021 and will mandate the use of Electronic Logging Devices for commercial livestock haulers. CCA has heard concerns from livestock truckers on these new regulations and have expressed these concerns to Transport Canada.
Animal Health Emergency Management (AHEM) has developed producer handbooks and provincial association plans. AHEM is working closely with CCA to develop a National Emergency Response Framework. A working draft of the beef framework has been developed and next steps include a comprehensive test to help identify where gaps in the plan remain along with confirming strengths of the plan.
The National Farm Animal Care Council continues to be active on a number of files including updating the Codes of Practice. Transportation is the focus with the recently released Humane Transportation Regulations.
The CCA is also please to see that Canada is one step closer to attaining BSE negligible risk status. During the Animal Health and Care Committee meeting, CFIA National Coordinator BSE Program, Aman Bath, updated the committee on Canada’s BSE negligible risk application to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). CFIA received notification earlier in March that Canada has received a recommendation by the OIE’s Scientific Commission to grant Canada the negligible status for BSE risk. The recommendation will then be put to a vote by the delegates at the 88th General Assembly at the end of May. Negligible risk status would help facilitate expanded access to foreign markets for various beef products currently limited by BSE era restrictions.
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s (CCA) Food Policy Committee has been very busy since the last report. The Committee has dealt with food labeling issues, building CCA's position on simulated meat products and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) consultation on simulated meat labeling guidelines.
At the start of December, the CFIA closed its consultation on simulated meat and poultry labeling guidelines. With the guidance of the Food Policy Committee, CCA’s Lauren Martin outlined a response to the proposed guidelines. The general context of CCA's submission was to maintain the position that no simulated meat products should ever have the chance to be mistaken for a traditional meat product. Thus, the submission outlined that our position was that simulated meat products should not be allowed to use terms such as sirloin, striploin or ribeye as these are traditional meat terms and have a high likelihood of confusing the consumer. Other points the submission outlined were not allowing companies to use images of animals of the meat they are trying to simulate.
The misleading labeling of alternative proteins has been a concern of the Food Policy Committee because it may have the opportunity to mislead consumers in-store. Thus, CCA staff reviews the trademark office to see if any plant protein product's trademarks would have misleading names/descriptions that could be confused as a traditional beef product. The Food Policy Committee is currently building a strategy on how to deal with any infringements on the regulations. This has been an active file as of lately for the committee and will continue to be into the year ahead.
During the Food Policy Committee meeting on March 15, 2021 held during the CCA virtual AGM, the committee was briefed on the current status of the Front of Pack labeling on ground beef which could impact ground beef sales as the warning labels for saturated fat may steer consumers away from it. Currently, this regulation has been pushed back on implementation due to the COVID-19 pandemic and may be implemented this upcoming fall; however, there has not been a firm timeline established. To rebut these claims, Canada Beef has outlined a strategy to promote the importance of ground beef and the nutrients it provides to humans. Also, they are looking to build a name for ground beef since it is more of a generic product, and they feel that it will better be served with a story and a brand behind it.
Lastly, the Food Policy Committee was involved with a UN Food System Summit virtual independent dialogue at the end of April hosted by the CCA and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Insight and feedback gathered from the sessions will be analyzed and formally provided to the United Nations with more work to come to ensure CCA is part of building sustainability goals. This is important to be involved in as it is the first summit in 25 years.
The Food Policy Committee continues to address any issues as they see fit.
The 2021 Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) AGM committee meetings were held virtually over the third week of March. As it would be expected, COVID-19 has presented many challenges to the beef industry, but trade continues to be a strong focus of the CCA. Regardless of the barriers that COVID-19 posed, 2020 was an active year for trade negotiations:
Throughout COVID-19, the CAN-US border remained open for essential business, although trade is not the top priority for the Biden administration. The USMCA entered into force in July 2020, where mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (mCOOL) was kept out of the New NAFTA, although some mCOOL supporters are still pushing for the reinstatement. Canada is in continuous discussion with the US administration to prevent mCOOL.
CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership)
Securing further access to quickly expanding Asian markets is of key priority for the CCA. Although 2020 export volumes of beef were slightly down, product value increased. CCA is keen on the economies of the UK, Taiwan, Thailand, and South Korea to move forward in the accession process of the CPTPP. The ascension of new members is an opportunity to expand trade diversification and creating new export opportunities.
Indonesia is not currently a market for Canadian beef, however, is a substantial market for meat-and-bone meal sourced from Canada. CCA notes that there is opportunity to gain market share for all meat products from the meat animal into Indonesia and will further explore this. Minister Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade, launched public consultations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Indonesia which ended on February 23rd. CCA submitted its comments on a potential Canada-Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). CCA shared its support to the objective of pursuing free trade with Indonesia to maximize commercial benefits and to maintain a competitive pace with competitors.
In June of 2020, China requested increased commitments from agri-food exporters around the world to ensure that their products were free of COVID-19. This created a strain on beef exports from Canada to China, specifically from the Cargill plant in High River, AB. Although food researchers have ensured that the spreadable risk of COVID-19 on food products is extremely low, Cargill High River has still not been reinstated.
Canada-UK Trade Continuity Agreement
Canada and the United Kingdom signed a Trade Continuity Agreement in December 2020, ratified on March 17, to enable the continuity of trade until a permanent trade agreement enters into force. CCA looks to ensure that the limitations of CETA will be removed from the permanent Canada-UK trade agreement.
Securing future trading relationships between Canada and Ukraine are hopeful as of February 2021 Canadian federally licensed meat establishments are no longer required to gain Ukraine approval prior to exporting.
The Canadian government is currently looking to advance the technical trade priorities of Canadian beef into the EU. The Standards Council of Canada and Market Access Secretariat (MAS) are currently working toward creating a set of verifications to further improve trade of Canadian beef into the EU.
Building on an initial proposal advanced by Canada, the US, Brazil and Argentina earlier this year, members discussed a possible Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Declaration for the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference next year which would address the growing pressures on international agri-food production and trade.
Next steps for accessing markets with BSE restrictions
Canada has applied for BSE negligible risk status and pending that the OIE approves this status (during OIE general session May 2021), Canada will have opportunity to pursue full access into various beef markets that limit trade based on BSE risk status.
We had to opportunity to join the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s (CCA) Domestic Agriculture Policy and Regulations Committee meeting in October, where we heard a presentation by Steve Funk of MNP. It was largely regarding the Business Risk Management (BRM) program known as AgriStability, and the inequitable treatment caused by Reference Margin Limiting (RML). The committee was able to learn about the modeling work done for the Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO), New Brunswick Cattle Producers and CCA. The major takeaways were that intensive livestock operations (feedlots) required smaller drops in revenue to trigger AgriStability payouts compared to cow-calf producers. Overall, the committee decided to lobby for the removal of RMLs to make the program more effective for producers.
The Domestic Ag Committee held their 2021 AGM meeting on Thursday, March 18. The meeting was led by Co-Chairs, Charlie Christie from Alberta and Rob Lipsett of Ontario with over 30 people in attendance.
The meeting began with a Business Risk Management (BRM) presentation led by Scott Pellow and Francesco Del Bianco with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, where Set-Aside programs and AgriStability reform was discussed. The committee discussed in detail the mechanics of AgriRecovery and the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program (WLPIP), which was rebranded earlier this year to be named “Livestock Price Insurance”. The discussion then continued with Canfax representative Brenna Grant presenting on analysis that has taken place over the last year to look at expanding a livestock price insurance program into the Maritime provinces. Amy Higgins from the Maritime Beef Council spoke in greater detail about the steps being taken at the provincial level to establish a pilot program in the region.
Young Cattlemen’s Council delegates were able to present to the committee on a Capital Gains Deferral Fund project. In 2015, the Beef Farmers of Ontario conducted a study with MNP to address the issues of the cost of land for young producers and the increasing number of farmers retiring. The idea of a capital gains tax deferral fund was proposed to allow farmers to deposit all, or a portion, of the proceeds from the sale of their land at retirement and receive a tax deferral on the capital gains. The fund would then be used to support beginning farmers as a pool of capital to acquire farmland. The fund would be set-up to provide favourable terms to beginning farmers compared to other financial institutions. It would also act as an investment instrument for farmers that contribute the proceeds of their land sales as they would receive a return from the interest paid by beginning farmers on the loans granted by the fund. The fund would be open to all farmers who sell their land regardless of structure, including individuals, corporations, partnerships or trusts. As young farmers, one of our biggest obstacles is the cost of land. Particularly in provinces where we are competing with land regulations and other large industries with a finite amount of resources. This study was conducted specifically in Ontario, but it is our hope at YCC to see this become a National objective where every cattle producer in Canada will have the opportunity to be successful when starting or growing their operation, and receive tax benefits when they retire and sell their land. It was our “ask” as a Council that the committee move to allocate staff and conduct an assessment on the potential for a National Capital Gains Tax Deferral Fund. We are pleased to report that the committee has decided to move forward with further investigating this initiative. It is worth noting that this proposed Capital Gains Deferral Fund may not be the exact answer to addressing the issue of accessing capital for young producers, but we believe that it will be a stepping stone in helping us address this ongoing issue.
The committee also spoke on the effects of COVID-19 on agricultural labour. Not surprising, it appears that operations that utilize Temporary Agricultural Foreign Workers experienced significant challenges over the last year. It is a positive to note however that despite the virus, the demand for beef has continued to remain strong.
The committee finished their meeting with a provincial roundtable discussion, which provided an opportunity for provincial delegates to discuss their regional issues with the rest of the committee. Some of the issues brought forward included water storage and licensing, price insurance, government funding for agriculture programs, Next Agricultural Policy Framework priorities and crown land management to name a few.
The week following the Domestic Ag Committee AGM meeting, the CCA was pleased to see the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Agriculture Ministers agree to remove the Reference Margin Limit under AgriStability. Removing the reference margin limit will go a long way in making AgriStability more predictable and equitable for beef producers. CCA will continue to advocate for an increased compensation rate within the program from 70 per cent to 80 per cent that was included in the original proposal tabled by Federal Ag Minister, Marie Claude-Bibeau.
We look forward to keeping the membership updated on the future meetings and activities of the Domestic Ag Committee.
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) Environment Committee meeting was held virtually during the Annual General Meeting March 15, 2021. The meeting was welcomed by the Committee Chair Duane Thompson with highlights, announcements and upcoming projects.
The meeting began with the first speaker, Frank Annau, Director of Environment and Science Policy with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. Annau gave an update on Bill C-206 and fuel exemptions under the carbon tax. After a difficult year for many farmers due to the wet harvest season in 2019, the use of grain dryers was in high demand. The proposed legislation is to have an exemption for propane and natural gas as farm fuel under the Federal Carbon Tax scheme as the burden lead to significant cost impact to farmers. The Liberals have noted the Bill may not provide the intended relief for grain drying, as grain drying is not considered eligible farm machinery under the Pollution Pricing Act. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is recommending that the Bill must cover exemptions not only for grain drying but also for machinery used for livestock heating, cooling and irrigation.
Scott Ross, Assistant Executive Director with the CFA gave an update on the Agriculture Carbon Alliance. The Agriculture Carbon Alliance is a collaboration of national farm organizations representing major agricultural commodities. The goal of the alliance is to work together to ensure on-farm profitability, safeguard global and domestic competitiveness, and recognize farmers as sustainable stewards of the land. The alliance largely focuses on carbon pricing and the immense economic impact to agriculture. The information sharing, bringing all sectors up to speed, avoiding duplication and coming forward will support sound carbon pricing policy and related legislation.
Lauren Martin, CCA Government and Food Industry Relations Manager, gave an update on the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS). Guided by five Action Tracks, the Summit aims to bring together stakeholders to advance changes to the world's food systems that will help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Unfortunately, there is concern the Summit may become a stage for anti-red meat sentiments and reports. CCA is preparing ahead of the Summit as it is important that the beef sector has the opportunity to effectively share the industry's perspective related to advancing the SDGs while incorporating livestock and meat in global food systems. The CCA will be holding a series of independent dialogues for which a summary report will be sent to the UNFSS for inclusion in the proceedings.
Lastly, the meeting wrapped up with Kristine Tapley, an Agrologist with Ducks Unlimited sharing their new website launch. The outstanding website is public driven and a helpful communication and resource tool.
The last meeting the Food Policy Committee conducted was held virtually on August 4, 2020 during the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) Semi-Annual Meeting. Since then, we had to say goodbye to our lead staff member of the Food Policy Committee, Jennifer Babcock, and we wish her the best in her future endeavors. However, we now have a new staff member leading the Food Policy Committee, and I have had the privilege of having a brief chat with the new staff member, Lauren Martin, and we are in very capable hands. One of the major issues currently in front of the Food Policy Committee that Lauren has briefed us on is the Government Consultation of the Simulated Meat and Simulated Poultry labeling guidance document put out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). To learn more about the consultation and participate through the online survey, click here.
The labeling of alternative proteins has also been a concern of the Food Policy Committee because it may have the opportunity to mislead consumers in-store. Thus, CCA staff reviews the trademark office to see if any plant protein product trademarks would have misleading names/descriptions that could be confused as a traditional beef product. A report is generated for each Food Policy Committee meeting and is reviewed by both CCA staff and the Food Policy Committee members to see if any further action is required on any trademarks. As of right now, there have been no trademarks that are a cause for concern.
Besides the guidance document consultation, another main issue that the Food Policy Committee has commented on is the front of pack labeling for ground beef. The front of pack labeling has been a concern since it may impact ground beef sales because Health Canada wants to put warning labels on ground beef containing high amounts of saturated fats. The Committee feels that it is vital to keep lobbying to ensure that ground beef is exempt from this regulation. It is a whole food that is not processed and has a positive nutritional benefit. Currently, this regulation has been pushed back on implementation due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Lastly, Health Canada wants to move the food waste file forward. The Committee felt that this would be a space that CCA could be a leader in by showcasing current work done to reduce food waste. The federal government recently announced a waste reduction challenge which presents an opportunity for CCA members. Details here. CCA is also working on a climate change paper that could have a section on food waste being used in the beef sector and the benefits that come along with using it. The Committee agreed that CCA staff should continue with Health Canada and the industry to ensure that CCA and Health Canada are on similar pages.
Overall, this committee is still fairly new compared to the other committees. However, there was a consensus that this will be an important committee moving forward.
Young Cattlemen's Council
The Domestic Ag meeting was held virtually on August 7, 2020 during the CCA Semi-Annual Meeting.
Marvin Slingerland and Steve Funk of MNP presented on the AgriStability modelling work that has been completed for CCA and ACFA so far. They began by showing a chart breaking down farm commodities sorted by eligible expense to revenue ratio. The key takeaway from this chart is that intensive livestock (such as feedlots) require a smaller revenue drop to trigger AgriStability (3% to 7% range) when compared to cow-calf producers (25% to 40% range). This inequity is largely caused by the reference margin limiting provision under the program.
Ryan Brunt from AAFC joined the committee to update on the progress made on the FPT Business Risk Management Review. At the end of 2019, FPT Ministers announced two changes to the BRM suite that will be implemented in 2020. The first change for the 2020 program year is the treatment of private insurance under eligible income and expense under AgriStability. In addition, Ministers agreed to launch a pilot in select jurisdictions where both cash and accrual tax return information can be used to simplify the application process. Brunt also provided an overview of AAFC’s program changes due to COVID-19, including the announcement to increase AgriStability interim payments from 50 to 75 per cent, the AgriStability enrollment deadline being extended to July 3rd and the roll-out of Set-Aside programs under AgriRecovery. AAFC have been developing plans to engage with industry on BRM in coming months, including the National Programs Advisory Committee and with individual sector organizations.
An update was provided by Brenna Grant on progress made in establishing an Eastern Settlement Index to be delivered in the Maritime provinces as a pilot Livestock Price Insurance Program. In mid-June, the Beef Cattle Research Council approved funding for the Eastern Price Insurance project being completed by Kaastra Capital Corp. The project has two phases. The first phase (June 15 to October 19, 2020) will assess data availability for developing feeder and calf price indices utilizing data from Ontario and Quebec. An initial feasibility analysis will be completed using the data from Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) and Quebec. The second phase (October 20 to April 2021) will develop the feeder and price indices and complete a historical analysis. AFSC has requested 25 years of historical analysis to evaluate big swing years such as 1995/96 and 2003-05.
David Moss and Brady Stadnicki presented on a heifer-calf holdback program concept that was drafted in May 2020 during the spring peak of COVID. The backup in cattle will likely continue well into the fall, which may have a direct impact on the feedlots' ability to place calves. This reduction in placement capacity (and demand) could necessitate the need for a heifer-calf hold back strategy. The objective of the concept is to reduce the volume of 2020 fall-run calves available for purchase by the feedlot sector so as to better align supplies to the available pen space, which has been reduced due to the back up of market ready cattle. The goal of the program is to retain up to 100,000 heifer calves across Canada.
The committee discussed whether this should be an incentivized program or whether this should remain an individual business decision, along with the proper timing of when a program like this should be deployed. It was recognized that the concept was drafted at time when there was high anxiety about future prices, plant capacity and feedlot backups. The committee agreed that CCA should not lobby for this program currently, but strongly recommended to keep it updated and on the shelf in case it is needed if this situation worsens.
An AgriRecovery and Set-Aside Program update was presented, reporting the different phases and sectors involved, as well as the number of producers who had applied at the time.
Lastly, a Provincial Roundtable was circulated prior to a Policy Review and Adjournment.
Saskatchewan Delegate and President
Young Cattlemen’s Council
The CCA Animal Health and Care Committee meeting was held virtually on August 6, 2020. Dr. Tom Smylie, Senior Staff Veterinarian, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), provided an update on CFIA activities in regards to developing a Canadian Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Vaccine Bank. CFIA modelling has shown that a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in highly populated livestock regions would represent one of the worst-case scenarios for Canada and would require between 1.9 million and 2.7 million doses of FMD vaccine. We currently have a significant shortfall in available emergency vaccine, and the 14-week timeframe to produce a vaccine represents a significant risk to the livestock industry and to the Canadian economy.
Given the establishment of the US FMD Vaccine Bank and the known catastrophic devastation risk of an FMD outbreak in Canada, CCA is strongly encouraging the Government (AAFC) and CFIA to establish a Canadian FMD Bank of 30 million doses, consisting of 2.5 million doses, each of 12 different FMD vaccine concentrates. The projected annual cost is $1.92 million USD excluding potency and licensing testing.
Pierre-André Bélair, National Project Manager - BSE OIE 2020 Submission – updated the committee on Canada’s BSE negligible risk application to the OIE. The application was drafted and submitted by the responsible regulator (CFIA) and was submitted to OIE in advance of the July 31, 2020 deadline.
Dr. Aline Dimitri, Executive Director, Animal Health, CFIA, provided an update on pending traceability regulations. The proposed regulatory amendments are focused on enhancing the response capabilities in the event of an animal health emergency. There is a commitment to align, as much as possible, to the Cattle Implementation Plan developed by industry. Industry has reviewed the proposed changes in a side-by-side comparison and has provided comment to CFIA.
CFIA understands there will be costs associated with these enhanced traceability regulations and will work with industry to both understand these costs and look for means to address these additional costs. CFIA also sees opportunity in the enhanced data that will be collected that can be used for enhanced surveillance, market access and perhaps value-add industry driven initiatives. There is recognition that there is growing consumer demand for tracing food and expectations on having robust response systems in place to deal effectively with a disease outbreak.
Dr. Aline Dimitri provided an update on the humane transportation regulations. It was acknowledged that the approach taken for this review was how CFIA operated in the past and is why the approach needs to change. CFIA needs to better understand the issues and to enhance communication with industry prior to drafting and enforcing new regulations. The new regulations came into force February 20, 2020, and CFIA has developed a two-year education process prior to enforcement for all non-egregious offenses. CFIA is working closely with CCA and the Humane Transportation Working Group to ensure issues are addressed in a collaborative manner. It was recognized there are issues with feed, water and rest, and that current research needs to be taken into account when designing interpretation and enforcement.
The CCA Foreign Trade Committee Meeting was held virtually on August 5, 2020 during the CCA Semi-Annual Meeting.
Numerous trade updates were presented, starting with the United States and NAFTA. Canada passed the Bill through our legislative processes through a cross party effort in a somewhat hurried manner as COVID-19 entered into Canada in March. This enabled CUSMA to enter into force on July 1, 2020. The leadership of the national cattle organizations of CCA, NCBA and CNOG all met via video conference on July 1, 2020 as part of a regular tri-lateral meeting.
Importantly, Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (mCOOL) was kept out of the new NAFTA, however, mCOOL supporters continue their efforts to reinstate the discriminatory market effects in one form or another. The CCA continues to work with allies on this issue.
Throughout COVID-19, the Canada-US border remained open to essential business travel. While at the start of the new border rules there was some confusion, the border for the most part continued operating without significant challenges.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. CPTPP came into effect amongst Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Mexico on December 30, 2018. Vietnam became the seventh to implement on January 14, 2019. For the remaining signatories; Chile, Malaysia, Peru and Brunei ratification is not anticipated within a short timeframe. The CPTPP will enter into force 60 days after their ratification. The CCA encourages the further expansion of the CPTPP subject to review of specific country barriers and potential for beef trade.
January 2020 marked the five-year anniversary of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement and the sixth of fifteen annual tariff reductions. In 2019, beef exports to South Korea at $42.8 million were up 66% from 2014 ($25.8 million). Impressive growth, however, a number of challenges remain with exporting to the South Korean market.
The Canada-China relationship continues to be tense with the continuation of Meng Wanzhou making her way through the Canadian judicial system and with China holding the two Michaels. In June, China requested increased commitments from agri-food exporters around the world that their products are free of COVID-19. This request came from Chinese custom authorities following a secondary COVID-19 outbreak within China. Food researchers globally have maintained that the risk of COVID-19 spread on food is extremely low. Alongside this request for commitment letters, China also temporarily suspended shipments from Cargill’s High River plant in Alberta. Cargill High River is amongst numerous plants around the world that has been put on the temporary suspension list. Other plants were from Brazil, Argentina, Germany, the U.K., Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy and the US. In 2019, the export licences of Canadian genetic companies to export Canadian livestock genetics to China were not renewed. China has recently undertaken virtual audits with Canada with the facilities, however the results of the audits have yet to be finalized.
Canadian beef exports to Europe were unique throughout COVID-19 as they were able to grow by 25 per cent in value (YTD May 2020) over 2019. CCA is working on a number of proposals in partnership with the CFIA aimed at facilitating the eligibility of Canadian cattle for export to the EU, a key limiting factor to increasing exports to Europe.
This spring, the EU Farm to Fork Strategy was unveiled, under the umbrella of the European Green Deal. It aims at creating a more ‘robust, secure, and sustainable food system’ and identifies way to support sustainable food production and consumption in both the EU, but also abroad. It includes 2030 targets such as a mandatory front-of-pack labelling, origin for certain products and targets to cut the use of pesticides, fertilizers, antimicrobials among others. There is significant concern that this green deal could result in barriers to trade.
The UK has decided to officially leave the EU and are currently operating under the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement which set out how the UK would continue to be covered by EU-third country trade agreements until December 31, 2020. The UK and the EU are currently undertaking negotiations to establish their future trading relationship following the conclusion of this withdrawal agreement by end of year. Until the end of 2020, Canada and the UK will trade under the umbrella of CETA, however the future of the Canada-UK trade relationship is largely unknown. There is the potential to reach an interim agreement that would be largely based off of CETA that could come into force on January 1, 2021 and operate until Canada and the UK have the resources to fully undertake a unique bilateral agreement, although time is running short to achieve this prior to the deadline of January 1, 2021.
The Canadian Beef Breeds Council provided an update on the impacts the seedstock sector experienced due to COVID-19. Fawn Jackson and Michael Latimer updated the committee on the staff directive given at the annual meeting on attaining further detail on a project to assess the technical access that Canadian genetics have in international markets in comparison to other international competitors.
The Environment Committee met virtually on August 4, 2020 during the CCA’s Semi-Annual Meeting.
Chair, Duane Thompson, presented the report highlighting that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has posted several interim codes of practice that will be finalized in the fall of 2021. Of importance to beef producers are the interim codes for beaver dam removal, culvert maintenance and end of pipe screening when pumping water in fish habitat. While slow to initiate, DFO has begun ag industry consultations on these interim Codes of Practice and CCA staff are developing comments on aspects of the interim codes that need clarification, or are impractical for landowners to follow.
The CCA had submitted a formal Notice of Objection to the re-evaluation decision by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) to terminate the registered use of strychnine for the control of Richardson's ground squirrels (RGS). CCA also co-signed a letter to Federal Health Minister, Patty Hajdu, noting the science does not support the PMRA decision. It remains to be seen if PMRA will reverse its decision. In the meantime, strychnine use for RGS control is to be phased out over three years.
On March 31, 2020, the 2015-2020 Species At Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Lands project officially ended. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) had indicated future funding to continue the very successful program was likely. Just prior to the Semi-Annual Meeting, CCA received confirmation by senior ECCC staff that it would indeed receive funding.
Despite the impacts of COVID-19, it was decided to go ahead with presenting the 2020 Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA). To get the most exposure possible during these pandemic restrictive times, CCA held a media showcase of the TESA nominees ahead of the virtual TESA awards ceremony set for August 12, 2020 during the Canadian Beef Industry Conference.
Dr. Ryan Brook, associate professor at the Animal and Poultry Science Department at the University of Saskatchewan, presented on the findings of his team's research from 2010 to 2020 on the population of wild pigs across the prairies. Brook showed data indicating a significant and rapid expansion in the wild pig population is occurring across Saskatchewan, Manitoba and regions of Alberta. Dr. Brook indicated the only solution, based on experience elsewhere, is for jurisdictions to take an eradication approach as these wild pigs are very prolific year-round breeders and have multiple litters per sow each year.
CCA Environment and Sustainability Manager, Larry Thomas, updated the committee on the progress of the Food Water Wellness Foundation’s project on quantifying soil organic carbon on ranches across Alberta. The target is to use a new technology and methodology to test a system whereby farm scale soil carbon stores and actual soil carbon accrual can be measured, thus enabling producers to monitor their soil carbon status and perhaps receive incentives for improving soil carbon levels over time. Lab analyses are underway and it's hoped preliminary results will be available this coming winter. He also reported on the Wetlands Valuation Project being proposed by the Canadian Wetlands Roundtable and Ducks Unlimited Canada. The project objective is to determine the asset value of wetlands to Canadians. This value analysis is critical to placing wetlands as real assets on balance sheets of conservation organizations, governments and private landowners. Having a scientific robust valuation of various types of wetlands could be important in future incentives-based conservation offset programs.