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.