Canadian Cattlemen’s Association Says mCOOL, Japan File Key Priorities in 2014
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), the voice of the producers who run the country’s 68,500 beef farms and feedlots, is ready to tackle a busy year focused on lobbying, advocacy and increasing trade opportunities for Canadian beef farmers.
Farms.com posed a series of questions to the CCA, ranging from reflections of 2013, to finding out what the top lobbying initiatives are for this year. Gina Teel, Communications Manager for the CCA and Dennis Laycraft, CCA’s Executive VP graciously answered our questions, which are outlined below in a Q and A format.
1.What would you say are the top three accomplishments of the CCA in 2013?
1 A: There were a number of very positive accomplishments in 2013. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Europe was agreed to in principle, Japan raised the age restrictions related to BSE for beef imports to under 30 months, the Beef Research Cluster received matching funding of $14 million for the next five years, the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle was completed, the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef was created, and a Canadian Cattlemen’s Foundation was established. Work on a new long term industry strategy commenced.
2.What are the key priorities/lobbying initiatives for the CCA in 2014?
2 A: The U.S. Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (mCOOL) issue will likely be resolved one way or another in 2014. The CCA is again taking the U.S. to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the basis that they have failed to bring their law and rules into compliance with the previous WTO rulings. This is the final stage in this legal process that could lead to retaliation if we are successful and should the U.S. again choose to not bring a proper resolution forward.
At the same time as we are advancing our WTO case, the U.S. industry, which is largely on CCA/Canada’s side, is challenging the rule in the U.S. courts and aggressively lobbying Congress to change the law. This has pulled the North American industry together and strengthened the relationship outside of government between our three countries. This is becoming increasingly important as we become more active on a number of international issues related to product approvals, adoption of maximum residue limits (MRL’s), animal health and animal care guidelines, sustainability, and working to improve global beef demand.
Q: What can Canadian beef producers expect from the CCA in 2014?
A: Japan is a key file. The CCA is focused on achieving a Canada-Japan economic partnership agreement and/or the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations which have a high potential to reduce the significant (38.5 per cent) tariffs that beef imports face entering into Japan. Achieving a Free Trade Agreement with Korea would also benefit Canadian producers by enabling Canadian beef to compete with U.S. beef, which has a tariff advantage under the U.S. Korus.
Looking ahead, 2014 has the potential to be a very good year for Canada’s beef cattle industry with both higher prices and lower costs being forecast. New opportunities are being created. The grain and oilseed paradigm is shifting again with much lower prices forecasted in 2014 than most thought possible just a few years ago. The competition for land use should be more tempered moving ahead. Hopefully we will begin a rebuild in 2014 and Canada’s beef cattle industry will enjoy good years ahead.
3. What are some of the latest developments on mCOOL?
3 A: A hearing for a preliminary injunction was held in August and denied by the Court in September. On January 9, 2014, a hearing will take place to appeal the denial of the preliminary injunction. Re: WTO challenge, written briefings took place through the fall of 2013 and will be followed by an oral hearing in Geneva, Switzerland in February 2014.
Q: What do you think is the likelihood of a clause being added in the next U.S. Farm Bill to revoke the current meat labelling rules?
A.While a fix in the U.S. Farm Bill is viewed as the easiest way to bring the U.S. into compliance with its WTO obligations, the U.S. government process is not always as functional as we’d like. Work to pass a new Farm Bill was well advanced, although not yet complete at the end of 2013.
Q: What do you estimate the economic impact on the Canadian beef industry since the rules came into effect?
A. mCOOL discrimination costs Canadian cattle producers around $640 million per year in losses incurred since it was implemented in late 2008. USDA’s May 23 regulatory change is expected to necessitate additional segregation which could see mCOOL’s cost impact to producers increase to $50 to $100 per head.
Q:Do you believe that Minister Ritz has taken beef producers’ concerns seriously?
Q: Has/is he (Minister Ritz) doing enough to push for changes to mCOOL? What are CCA’s next steps?
A:Ministers Ritz and Fast are great supporters of the Canadian beef industry. In June, at the behest of the CCA, they announced that the government of Canada would seek retaliatory tariffs on some goods if the WTO gave them approval to do so. Also, the Ministers have been involved in high profile events and met with key U.S. officials to ensure Canada’s position on mCOOL is well known and potential retaliation is a real threat for continued non-compliance.
4.The CCA’s new website – why were the changes made? What factors influenced the new website? What are some of the new features?
4 A:The CCA’s new website captures the essence of the CCA and the high level work the association does on behalf of Canada’s beef cattle industry. It contains a wealth of information to keep producers up to speed on CCA activities, as well as inform and educate consumers and the media about the beef cattle industry in general. The layout is easy to follow and navigate and the information presented is in easy to read text. New features include a video gallery and a photo gallery and a real time update of the @Cdncattlemen Twitter feed. The website is designed with a responsive design feature which enables the text and menus to automatically adjust to various screen sizes.
The navigation of the new website was inspired by traffic patterns on the old website, as well as current website best practices and the latest technology. CCA Communications drew on all of this information to create a comprehensive new website that would act as a useful tool for its members and serve as a trusted source of industry information for the public and the media.
Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve had some folks tell us they were having issues viewing the website or accessing PDF’s, but turns out they were using an old browser. Google Chrome or an equivalent browser is recommended for the ultimate experience.
5.There is a call for 2014 CYL applications – why is this an important program to the Canadian cattle industry, and what is your advice to those who are thinking about applying?
5 A:The Cattlemen’s Young Leaders program is the CCA’s youth mentorship program. It has been a major success from the moment it was launched. The future of the beef industry depends on the retention of passionate and knowledgeable youth. The CYL program tries to keep them interested in agriculture by giving them a taste of industry involvement and ensuring they can see a clear future for themselves. The success of this program is also reflected in the high level of industry sponsorship. I would encourage anyone who qualifies and is interested in learning more about career opportunities with associations like the CCA or the agriculture industry in general to apply. [The application deadline for the next program year is January 19.] Find out more at http://www.cattlemensyoungleaders.com/.