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.
There’s still time to put your name forward to serve on the Young Cattlemen’s Council (YCC) Board. The Young Cattlemen’s Council is holding elections for a two-year term Member at Large position.
To be considered, please complete and submit the following nomination form along side the additional requirements outlined in the document. The deadline is July 27, 2020.
Click here: 2020 Updated Member at Large Nomination Form
**Important Nomination Bio/Voting Update**
As we move to a virtual format, electronic voting will take place in the days prior to the virtual YCC Annual General Meeting (AGM) set for Thursday, August 6.
For Member at Large nomination bios (outlined with further instructions in the updated nomination form), please submit an approximately one-minute video of yourself, highlighting why you would be the best candidate for the position. The videos will then be distributed to members via email through a link, along with a section to cast their votes electronically.
Members, please watch your inboxes for voting instructions in the coming weeks.
For more information please visit our Join the Council page, or reach out with any questions through our Contact page.
The Environment Committee met on March 11, 2020 during the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) AGM in Ottawa. There were some excellent speakers throughout the day, and as always, there never seems to be enough time to fit it all in. The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) Executive Director, Monica Hadarits, provided an update on the roundtable’s work, and it seems like there continues to be more organizations becoming involved. It’s great to see such engagement from multiple stakeholders.
The CCA’s Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Amie Peck, provided an update from the Public and Stakeholder Engagement team to the committee. The Guardians of the Grasslands short documentary was having great success, and by all accounts was trending in a positive way and reaching new audiences. It’s been making the rounds to the various film festivals and has been well received. We have a great story to tell when it comes to cattle and grasslands, and the positive impact the beef industry has on the environment.
Transport Canada officials provided an update to the Minor Works Order with regards to the Navigable Waters Act. Water drainage and irrigation ditches were going to be exempt from the act, which is great news for farmers and ranchers. Further detail on other exemptions will come forward with the posting of the Minor Works Order likely in the summer.
Canfax Research Services Manager, Brenna Grant, also joined the committee meeting to report on some exciting research with regards to carbon sequestration and the impacts that cattle truly have on our environment. I encourage everyone to take the time and find out in more depth the exciting things happening there.
Strychnine will no longer be approved for use in ground squirrel control and over the next few years will be phased out. It is disappointing that it will no longer be a tool that can be used to deal with these pests.
Atlantic Delegate and Vice President
Young Cattlemen’s Council
The Food Policy Committee held a meeting on March 11, 2020 during the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) AGM in Ottawa and is the newest committee underneath the CCA board. The committee is currently working on setting the direction of the committee and finding issues that it can act on.
The CCA staff member that oversees the Food Policy Committee is Jennifer Babcock.
The main issues the Food Policy committee has commented on is the front-of-pack labelling for ground beef, infringement on the branding of plant-based protein compared to beef and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulations on alternative proteins labelling.
The front-of-pack labelling raises concern that ground beef sales may be impacted, as Health Canada is wanting to put warning labels on ground beef that it contains high amounts of saturated fats. The committee feels it is vital the CCA keep lobbying to ensure that ground beef is exempt from this regulation due to it being a whole food that is not processed and has a positive nutritional benefit. However, implementation of this regulation has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The labelling of alternative proteins has also been a concern of the Food Policy Committee, specifically, that labelling may mislead consumers. Thus, CCA staff is reviewing the trademark office to see if any trademarks of alternative protein products would have misleading names/descriptions that could be confused as a beef product. A report is generated monthly and is reviewed by CCA staff and the Food Policy Committee to see if any further action is required on any trademarks. As of right now, there have been a few trademark applications we are monitoring.
A side note to the previous point is the continual work done to monitor the CFIA definition of beef to ensure that it remains the same and simulated meat products are held to the same high standards of CFIA regulations.
Lastly, Health Canada is wanting to move the food waste file forward. The committee felt this is an area the CCA could be a leader in by showcasing current work being done in the industry to reduce food waste. CCA is working on a climate change paper that could have a section on food waste being used in the beef sector and the benefits associated with its use. The Committee agreed CCA staff should continue conversations with Health Canada and the industry to ensure the 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 this will be an important committee moving forward.
Young Cattlemen's Council
The Domestic Agriculture Policy and Regulations Committee meeting took place on March 12, 2020 during the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) AGM in Ottawa. The first presentation was made by Marvin Slingerland and Adam Vervoort from MNP, raising discussions on AgriStability and the Income Tax Act. Their key recommendation was to remove the Reference Margin Limit (RML) from AgriStability as they believed it would make the program more bankable, predictable, and create fairness for all producers and sectors.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) presented on the ongoing Business Risk Management review and their AgriStability program changes for the upcoming 2020 year, such as changes to private sector payments under AgriStability and developing a pilot program in select jurisdictions where both cash and accrual tax return information can be used to simplify the application process. The Committee was also updated on livestock price insurance and the CCA’s efforts to expand the program to the Maritime provinces.
The Committee also discussed the issue of labour shortages at the farm level and in beef processing, which contributes to limited growth opportunities and overall competitiveness of Canadian beef producers. One new avenue to address this challenge was the recent announcement of the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot. The CCA is hopeful that the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot program will help put industry on the path to resolving the labour gap by helping to ensure we have more workers in beef processing plants and at the farm level, along with providing workers with the opportunity for a pathway to permanent residency. The CCA anticipates the pilot to begin in spring 2020 and will include spots for 2,750 full time, non- agriculture and agri-food workers.
The Committee also held a provincial roundtable, which provided an opportunity to discuss numerous regional issues that occurred over the past months. Topics included weather challenges and feed shortages, regional growth strategies, concern with transport regulations, UNDRIP, consumer marketing campaigns, price insurance, predation programs, agriculture crown lands, processing capacity, organizational structure and much more.
The next Domestic Ag meeting will be held virtually on August 7, 2020 at 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. (MST).
Young Cattlemen’s Council
Earlier this year, the Young Cattlemen’s Council (YCC) had the opportunity to be present at the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) Animal Health and Care Committee meeting during the Association’s AGM on March 11, 2020 in Ottawa. The committee had many points on the agenda, with the main points focusing on the Canadian Foot and Mouth disease vaccine bank and the recent transport regulations.
Discussions on the Canadian Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank centred around the need for more stock of a vaccine, and in coordination with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), CCA continues to look at different options. The committee also ran through a scenario if there was to be an outbreak and how the CCA would respond. This process was very eye-opening from a YCC representative perspective, as it gave some insight on how the CCA operates in those types of situations, and how they work to represent the industry in the most efficient way possible.
There was also discussion on the new transportation regulations, and the committee looked at the ongoing Transport Rest Stop Study funded under the Beef Science Cluster. The hope is to continue working with CFIA to ensure the regulations can be implemented by the industry and will maintain and improve Canada’s excellent track record on cattle welfare.
Alberta Delegate and President
Young Cattlemen’s Council