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Volume 23 Issue 06 • December 16, 2019

cows in field

CCA applauds progress on CUSMA, encourages ratification

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) has long been an advocate for free trade, open markets, and the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). The CCA congratulates the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. on reaching an agreement on CUSMA and encourages swift ratification.
Under CUSMA and its predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the beef industries of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico enjoy reciprocal duty-free trade. The preservation of this trade access was a high priority for the CCA in the renegotiation process.
The experience of the North American beef cattle industries under NAFTA is testament to the value of trade agreements. Access to global markets, including the North American market, means that on average that each animal is worth over $600 CDN more than in comparison to domestic market sales alone.
“CUSMA will allow beef producers across all three of our countries to continue to grow and prosper,” says CCA President David Haywood Farmer. “Being able to sell our products into the markets most willing to pay for them is imperative to the economic health of Canadian, American and Mexican farmers and ranchers alike.” 
Cattle producers across all three nations have worked to ensure the value of trade was understood by elected officials during the renegotiation process. The Canada – U.S. beef trading relationship is the largest in the world and trade has significant benefits for both industries.
The CCA will continue to encourage the Government of Canada towards swift ratification and regulatory cooperation across borders, which will further enhance the value of trade and strength of the North American market.

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CCA joins meat industry mission to China

Photo Credit: CCA.

CCA recently travelled with colleagues from the Canadian Meat Council (CMC), Canadian Pork Council (CPC) and a number of representatives from individual meat exporting companies to China to meet with Chinese Food Safety and Customs officials. The aim of the face-to-face was to review concerns about past compliance of Canadian meat shipments with Chinese documentation requirements and to discuss future actions to avoid the recurrence of past mistakes in order to prevent further disruptions in trade. The group also met with several Chinese importers of beef and pork as well as service providers in the customs clearance and logistical processes. 

A few common themes emerged during the mission. Firstly, Canadian beef and Canadian pork have a very good reputation for high quality in the Chinese market. This reputation remains intact with Chinese consumers despite the documentation issues noted by the Chinese officials and there is a strong desire by importers to resume purchasing both pork and beef from Canada. Secondly, the officials are eager to see better compliance from Canada and resume trade. Lastly, and perhaps most significant, is a strong desire by both officials and importers for Canadian meat exporters and industry representatives to demonstrate their ongoing dedication to the Chinese market by being present on a more regular basis. The implication suggests with more regular contact, there would be opportunity to discuss and correct any concerns that might emerge without having to resort to stoppage of trade.  

Ten years ago, Canada exported no beef to China. From the commencement of exports in 2012, China has grown steadily to become our fifth largest market in both 2017 and 2018. If it had not been for the suspension of trade in June, China would have been virtually tied with Japan to be our second largest beef export market in 2019. Averaging $8.58 per kilo, China is behind only the European Union and Hong Kong in value per kilo of beef exported. By any measure, China is a valuable market for Canadian beef producers and exporters and as evidenced on this latest mission, that value can only grow.  

The challenge is whether Canadian producers can rely on predictable uninterrupted access to China. This is where the recommendation for more regular ongoing contact is a valuable take-away lesson from the meetings on this recent mission.  CCA will collaborate with its colleagues and partners at CMC and CPC to develop an ongoing engagement strategy for China to ensure we are well positioned serve our important customers in this market well into the future.

Photo Credit: CCA.

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CCA directors in Ottawa

From December 9th-11th, CCA Directors were in Ottawa, meeting with Parliamentarians. We held a holiday-styled reception on Parliament Hill to kick off the 43rd Parliament with Members of Parliament and Senators. Directors discussed the opportunities and current challenges facing beef producers, including trade, Eastern packing capacity, sustainability, Business Risk Management (BRM), and labour.

L-R Doug Sawyer, CCA President David Haywood-Farmer, Cathy Sharp, and CCA Vice President Bob Lowe in front of Parliament during the recent meetings.

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Habitat agreements through conservation organizations or third parties tickle western producers – Survey

Western Producers Like Working With Conservation Organizations or Third-Party Programs on Habitat Agreements

Canada’s agricultural lands play an important role in biodiversity and species-at-risk conservation, and we need policies and programs that can support this role. With this in mind, Jeremy Pittman with the Environmental Change and Governance Group at the University of Waterloo conducted an online survey of farmers and ranchers in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba in July and August 2019 to determine what programs producers actually want.

Based on advice from conservation program managers, the survey focused on four types of conservation programs:
  • Conservation management agreements, which are agreements to conduct certain practices or meet habitat targets;
  • Market certification, which means participating in verification programs providing information to consumers;
  • Conservation easements, which are restrictions placed on land title; and
  • Land securement, which means selling your land to a conservation organization.
Conservation management agreements and market certification were the preferred options to the producers responding to the survey (there were approximately 200 respondents in total).

Conservation management agreements were the top choice in all provinces. Conservation management agreements can take many forms, but they usually involve farmers and ranchers entering into agreements with various conservation organizations to undertake practices that benefit wildlife. Annual payments for habitat management were the preferred incentive and cost-sharing arrangements were the second choice for incentive under these agreements.

Market certification was the second most preferred type of conservation program in all the provinces. Market certification involves producers having their operations verified or audited as part of third-party programs, which is then used to communicate to consumers – with special logos or other means of advertising – that the agricultural operation supports wildlife. These programs provide a potential means of generating market-based premiums for conservation-friendly commodities, including beef.

Producers also tended to prefer annual or cost-share incentives rather than one-time payment conditions.

A central theme throughout the survey was the need to develop conservation programs allowing producers to undertake the practices that best align with their operation. That way, both wildlife and agriculture can continue to thrive on Canada’s landscapes.

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CRSB releases 2019 Annual Report

The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) has released its annual report, highlighting key achievements over the past year. Launched in 2018, the CRSB developed the first outcome-based certification program for beef sustainability in the world and uptake is steadily increasing. “We are excited to see such strong growth in the certification program over the past year, with a 45% increase in the volume of beef that has been sold through the program, and a 16% increase in certified farms and ranches over the past six months,” says Anne Wasko, Chair of the CRSB and a rancher from Eastend, Saskatchewan. “It shows that there is demand for the program and we hope Canadians are proud of the leadership role we are taking – working together and committing to transparency and continual improvement.” 

Adoption of the framework has far exceeded expectations with McDonald’s being the first to launch a program sourcing a portion of the beef volume in their Angus burger line-up (August 2018), followed by Harvey’s (June 2019) in their Original Burger. Both are highlighting their support of sustainable beef production in Canada by using the Mass Balance Certification Mark to market a portion of their beef sourced from CRSB Certified Sustainable   and Ranches. As of July 31, 2019 there are two processors certified to the CRSB’s Sustainable Beef Processing Standard – Cargill in the west and Atlantic Beef Products Inc. in the east. Also, three further processors are now audited to meet the CRSB’s Chain of Custody requirements that track the cattle and beef through the supply chain. The quick and early adoption by these processors and those further down the supply chain is a clear market signal to producers of the real demand for beef raised according to the sustainability standards developed by the CRSB. W is really needed now is increased capacity of certified cow-calf operations marketing through to other Certified Operations down the supply chain.

If you are interested in becoming certified, contact one of our Certification Bodies, and if you are already a certified *(audited) VBP+ operation, you are already automatically certified to the CRSB standards: Check out the new website to answer all your questions, including the standards and a new interpretive guide that can help navigate your through implementing the standards and understanding what will be evaluated in a certification audit.

The organization also launched an online sustainability projects inventory and, through its partnership with MultiSAR, Cows and Fish, beef producer associations (Alberta Beef Producers and the CCA) and the Species at Risk on Agricultural Lands program, has worked with 17 ranches and implemented 32 habitat improvements covering 189,000 acres in the Grassland Natural Region of Alberta. These improvements are made possible through funding generously provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada. “All these projects are producer driven and highlight the benefits of collaborative stewardship programs building on local knowledge and the positive impacts they can have for biodiversity and wildlife habitat,” noted Brad Downey, Biologist with the Alberta Conservation Association, one of MultiSAR's partner organizations.
Watch for an Interim Report on the National Beef Sustainability Strategy to be released in early 2020.  This report will focus on progress made on the 10 goals outlined in the strategy since 2016, and identifies opportunities for further improvement as CRSB gears up for its next full assessment in 2023.
Read the full news release here, and check out the Annual Report.

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Guardians of the Grasslands pockets film festival accolades

The short documentary, Guardians of the Grasslands, which explores the vital role of cattle in preserving and maintaining Canada’s endangered native grasslands, has been submitted to multiple film festivals in order to reach more diverse audiences. In mid November, the Digital Griffix film festival, based out of Montreal, chose the film as an “Official Selection”, which will see it screening at a film making college in Montreal. As well, in early December the Alternative Film Festival in Toronto selected the documentary as a “Best Film” finalist that will compete for one of the top trophies. To host a screening for your community, school or event, simply submit the form on the website:

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Update from the Food Task Force (FTF) with CCA, Canada Beef, Public and Stakeholder Engagement and Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef

Note: Since August, the FTF has been meeting to discuss activities and priorities relative to food, specifically, alternative proteins. We will provide an industry update following our meetings to share the work we have been doing on behalf of Canada’s beef producers.
  • Fall 2019 has been occupied with many conferences, events, and meetings that the task force has attended in Canada and internationally, with speaking engagements and the opportunity to communicate the important messages around Canadian beef and sustainability.   
  • We are collectively working with other associations and stakeholders to collaborate on likeminded protein policy objectives.
  • The FTF continues to share information with each other that helps each of us communicate with government, stakeholders, and Canadians.
  • Looking ahead, we will continue to build momentum on our various activities, advocate at the public, industry and government levels, and strengthen relationships with potential beef champions and partners.

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CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: Jennifer Babcock, Fawn Jackson, John Masswohl, Stina Nagel, Amie Peck, Andrea White, Canfax.

Edited, compiled and/or written by: Larry Thomas

Platinum Partner of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association TESA program and Foundation Partner of the CYL Program

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association is the national voice for Canada's beef cattle industry representing 60,000 beef farms and feedlots.

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