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Volume 22 Issue 06 • July 08, 2019

cows in field

China update

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) has met with the federal Agriculture and Agri-Food and International Trade Ministers regarding the suspension of the issuance of Canadian meat export certificates to China on June 25, 2019. The Government of Canada is currently investigating the fraudulent export certificates for Canadian pork which led to the suspension.

CCA has been informed that the Government of Canada is in contact with Chinese officials daily to resolve and rectify the technical issue. The CCA will continue to work alongside the Government of Canada to resume stable trade as quickly as possible.

It remains unclear why beef products have been included in this suspension however CCA’s understanding is that the suspension should be temporary.

Shipments of Canadian beef to China represented 2.6 per cent of Canada’s total beef exports last year. In 2018, Canadian beef exports to Mainland China were up 19 per cent in volume and 15 per cent in value at 10,300 tonnes valued at $97 million. In the first quarter of 2019, exports to Mainland China were up 445 per cent in volume and 428 per cent in value at 5,300 tonnes valued at $48 million.

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CCA priorities document for the 43rd General Election now available online

The CCA's priorities document with information for all candidates running for Parliament in the upcoming 43rd General Election on October 21 is now available on the The document outlines CCA’s key recommendations to further position the beef industry as a key sector of sustainable growth in Canada. CCA’s recommended actions ensure the regulatory, access and environmental infrastructures are in place to enable industry to successfully compete in and navigate through an increasingly fractious international trade system.
Specifically, CCA recommendations for the Government of Canada on trade include improving the capacity and efficiency of the industry through reducing regulatory burden and improving regulatory efficiencies; increasing access through trade advancements in current key markets including Asia for the 50 per cent of Canadian beef that is currently exported globally. The CCA also encourages the ratification of the Canada, U.S, Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) to further ease the flow of the beef trade in the highly integrated North American market.
Other priority areas of focus that will support the economic resiliency of Canada’s beef sector include increasing access to labour, adjusting the livestock tax deferral program and having a sufficiently funded and responsive business risk management suite. In addition, Canadian beef producers protect and sustainably use 44.2 million acres of grasslands - perennial lands which contain both native and tame grasses and forages - providing 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon sequestration annually. The recognition of the value of these ecosystem services to society is an area of focus for CCA.
Underpinning current and future progress will be enforceable rules-based trade. Also, it is the CCA’s view that any regulatory change affecting the industry in Canada be based in scientific evidence and utilize outcome-based guidelines that focus on the animal. Proper cattle care and welfare are paramount in the Canadian beef industry and producers understand science-based best practices are the best tool to ensure and safeguard animal welfare.
The beef industry is Canada’s largest agriculture sector, contributing $17 billion to GDP. Beef production supports strong rural communities and conservation outcomes from the agricultural landscape. With the right tools in place, Canada’s beef industry is well positioned to continue to grow the economy.
To review the CCA’s federal election priorities document, click here

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Beef producers to face above average declines in labour supply - forecast

Persistent workforce shortages in Canada’s agricultural sector are expected to continue, with the labour gap in the beef sector set to widen the most over the next 12 years, a new labour market forecast has found. 
According to the Labour Market Forecast, which examines workforce issues in the agricultural sector to 2029, current chronic workplace shortages in the beef sector compounded by high rates of retirement will result in beef producers experiencing the second largest decline in labour supply within agriculture over the forecast period. By 2029, labour supply in the beef sector is expected to be 17 per cent below 2017 levels, notes the forecast recently  released by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council (CAHRC).
The widening labour gap comes at a time of growing global demand for animal protein, particularly in emerging economies with a growing middle class, and underscores the urgency for viable solutions to be acted on now to resolve the issue for the long-term. Further, data in the forecast indicates farmers across Canada's agricultural sector reported $2.9 billion in lost sales because of unfilled vacancies – an increase from $1.5 billion in 2014.
While recent improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, like the elimination of the Cumulative Duration (4 years in, 4 years out) rule, are positive, much work remains to successfully implement key recommendations from the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Workforce Action Plan. The action plan provides government and industry with short, medium and long-term action items focused on increasing the supply of agricultural workers and improving the knowledge and skills of workers in the industry.
The CCA believes this dedicated plan for Canadian agriculture is vital to ensure the industry has a sufficient workforce to take advantage of significant opportunities in the future, enabling the beef sector to continue to thrive and industry in turn to maintain a positive impact on the Canadian economy.
“Proactively addressing workforce shortages in the beef sector is a top priority for the CCA,” said CCA President David Haywood-Farmer. “CCA stands united with all partners in Canadian agriculture in pushing forward to ensure we have a strong labour supply and workers with the right skills to grow food production in Canada.”
The CAHRC forecast adds that while vacancy rates in agriculture remain among the highest of any sector in Canada at 5.4 per cent (compared to the national average of just under 2.9%), they have decreased from the 2014 rate of seven per cent. The scenario for beef is that by 2029, two-fifths of the segment’s current domestic workforce is expected to retire, according to the forecast, which is highest for all of agriculture. Foreign workers will likely continue to be a major source of labour for the sector, and improvements to the sector’s access to foreign workers must be made if the sector is to realize its growth potential in the years to come.
The forecast follows a Labor Market Information Study (LMIS) released in 2016 by CAHRC and the Conference Board of Canada. The LMIS included a 10-year national outlook and forecast. At that time, the number of unfilled jobs in the beef sector were forecast to more than quadruple over the next decade

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Livestock grazing deemed bird friendly once again in latest state of birds’ report

The positive relationship between grasslands grazing and habitat preservation for birds is being highlighted once again in the latest State of Canada's Birds report. The recently released report noted that ‘beneficial grazing on public and private lands is critical for the creation and maintenance of grassland bird habitat.'
The report - prepared on behalf of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative Canada (NABCI Canada) by a steering committee that includes members from Environment and Climate Change Canada, Bird Studies Canada, Nature Canada, and Ducks Unlimited Canada - recommends conservation actions including protecting the few remaining grasslands, including grazed public lands, from crop agriculture and restoring native grasslands to provide habitat and increase carbon storage.
In Canada, just 30 per cent of native grasslands remain intact. The CCA has long advocated for enhanced protection of the Great Northern Plains, an endangered grasslands ecosystem, from further encroachment. Canada’s beef industry is the largest Canadian conserver of these grasslands. Pasture and grazing land of Canada’s beef industry provides 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon sequestration annually while the industry’s greenhouse gas footprint is less than half the world average and one of the lowest in the world.
Grasslands managed by Canada’s cattle producers support ecosystems that provide wildlife habitat, biodiversity conservation, and maintain water quality. Nearly one-third of Canada’s agricultural lands are covered in grasses and forages with most of those lands in natural grasses. As noted in the report, these grasslands are particularly important habitat for Canada’s migratory birds.
The report also encourages consumers to reduce food waste and protect and improve bird habitat by protecting and restoring critical lands and waters. It also mentions purchasing from sustainably run farms and range-fed beef.
NABCI Canada is a coalition of federal, territorial and provincial governments, non-government and industry organizations, working in partnership with the United States and Mexico to protect, restore, and enhance North American bird species and their habitats. NABCI Canada’s goal is to deliver the full spectrum of bird conservation in Canada, through regionally based, biologically driven, landscape-oriented partnerships.
To read the report in full, click here:

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Celebrating Environmental Stewardship

The CCA is pleased to feature the provincial stewardship award recipients in the running for the 2019 The Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA). The recipient of the CCA’s national award will be announced at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference in August. As always, a common theme among recipients is a profound sense of obligation to care for land and animals. Through sharing their stories, insights, beliefs and values, readers can gain perspective about the relationship between stewardship and cattle production and the benefits of conservation to society. 

In this issue, we feature the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association’s 2019 Environmental Stewardship Award recipient, Willow Creek Ranch, owned and operated by Randy and Terry Stokke.

The Stokke family manage their grass in a way that keeps it healthy and productive. This keeps livestock healthy and productive and maintains a healthy and biodiverse habitat for all prairie species. Photo: submitted

Willow Creek Ranch, SK Stock Growers 2019 Environmental Stewardship Award recipient

By Janet Kanters

Recognizing and taking care of the environment, conserving the prairie and preserving species at risk are the hallmarks by which Willow Creek Ranch at Consul, Sask., operates.

Located in the extreme southwest corner of the province, in the heart of the driest portion of Saskatchewan’s mixed grassland ecoregion on the eastern edge of the Wild Horse Plain, there really is no other option. Soil and rainfall patterns of this landscape present unique challenges for raising livestock, with average annual precipitation less than 12 inches and water deficits greater than two inches. 

Randy and Terry Stokke of Willow Creek Ranch, recipient of the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association 2019 Environmental Stewardship Award, are long-time advocates for prairie conservation and preservation of species at risk. And because of that, they have implemented far-sighted conservation practices to preserve their native grass pastures.

“Our goal is to maintain a healthy and diverse natural prairie habitat through careful management of our grass and timely rotations of our pastureland,” said Randy Stokke, who with his wife and three sons – Monty, Garret and Jay and their families – run 400 mother cows along with yearlings and horses on 14,000 acres. The land includes diverse wildlife, including over 50 species of birds and other wildlife and about nine species at risk, including the Swift Fox.

“I refer to ourselves as grass managers first and foremost,” noted Stokke, who added the ranch has recently been Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) certified. “We have to manage our grass in a way that keeps it healthy and productive. By doing this, we keep our livestock healthy and productive, and at the same time, our livestock fill a natural part in creating a healthy and biodiverse habitat for all prairie species.”

Stokke is the second generation to manage the land as a livestock business, taking over from his parents who started the ranch in 1943. The 14,000 acres is comprised of native range comprising mostly Crown grazing lease lands with about 10 per cent of that being private. Fencing is minimal. The range is divided into only five management units in an extensive approach to manage livestock distribution. Pastures are used on a rest rotation – units used for spring grazing are rotated annually to disperse grazing pressure and ensure the resilience of native forage is sustained over time. Ninety per cent of their pasture is native prairie, with the remainder in crested wheat grass and irrigated hay for spring and winter feed. Creeks run through almost every one of their fields.

The range is divided into only five management units in an extensive approach to manage livestock distribution. Units used for spring grazing are rotated annually to disperse grazing pressure and ensure the resilience of native forage is sustained over time. Photo: submitted

Stokke said he believes it is his responsibility to pass on what he has learned from his parents regarding the importance of proper management of the prairie habitat to the next generation.

“We have been sustainable before anyone cared about sustainability,” he said. “We provide a healthy source of protein, vitamins and minerals for Canadians to eat. We always have been conservationists as the abundant wildlife and prairie songbirds found on the ranch prove.”

And as livestock producers who live on small margins of profit, the ranch uses new technologies and science to make livestock production as efficient as possible.

“We are raising more beef per animal on less feed consumed than in my parents time. We do not use implants and are very conservative with use of antibiotics. We can do this and still achieve efficiency in growth because of grass management which keeps our livestock healthy and thriving.”

Stokke has taken up the challenge of explaining these and other stewardship practices to conservation organizations, as well as federal and provincial wildlife officials, to make the case that many species at risk rely on some level of grazing in order for habitat to be suitable. Starting in 2014, in his role as chair of Sustainable Canada, Stokke has established connections with wildlife experts to challenge assumptions about wildlife grazing conflicts and to promote the co-benefits of sustainable grazing and wildlife.

“To those who don’t eat meat because they believe they are saving the planet, I urge them to take a look at the recent information surrounding this topic. They may find out they are actually doing more harm than good. Talk to livestock producers, they’re your best source of information.”

More recently, Stokke has been working with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) on conservation agreements that would protect landowners from the prohibitive regulations surrounding protective orders under the Species at Risk Act. He said it is his goal to see programs implemented that will work with landowners to conserve grasslands and provide incentives to keep native grasslands as they are.

“Good stewardship of our land provides a desirable home for our family our livestock, and the abundant species that live here,” said Stokke. “It also ensures sustainability and longevity of the grassland resource for future generations of my family hopefully.”

“My hope is that my children can enjoy the ranching life as we have and pass it on to future generations.”
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Rejuvenation of hay and pasture: new web page

Rejuvenation of a forage stand, whether hay or pasture, involves using one or a combination of methods to increase productivity with a shift towards higher yielding forage species that provide improved nutritive value for livestock.

The first step in deciding whether to rejuvenate a forage stand is comparing the potential productivity with the current status of the pasture or hayfield. This will help determine if, and what, improvements or management changes are needed.

To learn more about forage and pasture rejuvenation health visit the new web page.

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CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: Campbell Hart, Beef Cattle Research Council, Canfax

Edited, compiled and/or written by: Gina Teel

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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