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Eighth meeting of the Sheep Value Chain Roundtable: Record of decision

November 29 to 30, 2018 – Calgary, Alberta

Key decision points

  • Meat and Carcass Quality Working Group, in conjunction with the Profitability Working Group, will gather information to assist in developing a potential sector-wide approach to meat grading.
  • Industry members of the Sheep Value Chain Roundtable (ShVCRT) request discussions with the federal government to identify and understand means and mechanisms available to address current sheep trade irritants.

A full listing of action items can be found in Annex A.

Welcome and overview

Industry and government co-chairs welcomed members, observers, youths, and guests to the Sheep Value Chain Roundtables. Members were encouraged to provide feedback on the content and format of this meeting. This meeting included a half-day joint session between the Beef Value Chain Roundtable and the ShVCRT.

Trade update

Members were provided with an update by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) on trade negotiations, including the Canada-United States-Mexico-Agreement (CUSMA), China, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay), the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru), the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the United Kingdom. Key highlights included:

  • CPTPP comes into force on December 30, 2018 and Canada was one of the first six parties to ratify the agreement. Other signatories such as Chile could ratify before the end of 2018. AAFC will engage in a coordinated market development strategy to capitalize on the new CPTPP markets.
  • Mercosur negotiations were launched in March 2018 and three rounds of negotiations have been completed to date. These are large and emerging markets but there are common areas of interest such as progressive trade and science-based trade rules.
  • Pacific Alliance has completed seven rounds since June 2017. Key topics include trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and technical barriers to trade.
  • CETA (EU) has been ratified.
  • An action item that arose from this trade discussion was the request for AAFC to invite officials from the International Affairs Branch to the next VCRT meeting (Action item 8-1)

Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC)

CFIA provided an update on the RCC, which is a forum for stakeholders to discuss regulatory barriers and identify opportunities for regulatory cooperation between Canada and the US. Mutually agreed upon work plans were published in 2016 outlining topics that will benefit both sides of the border. Work continues at the technical level to advance efforts and engage with stakeholders. Good progress has been made on the Meat Inspection and Certification work plan, but there are a few impediments on the Animal Health work plan. A Canada Gazette process is underway to engage with stakeholders and solicit input on new opportunities for regulatory cooperation.

Livestock Grading Committee

The Canadian Beef Grading Agency (CBGA) provided an overview of the beef grading model, including service delivery and updates due to the new Safe Foods for Canadian Regulations (SFCR) coming in effect on January 15, 2019. Industry members of the Sheep Value Chain Roundtable expressed an interest in investigating this model and potentially collaborating with CGBA for ovine carcass grading. (Action item 8-2)

Animal Health Canada: Pathfinding Project

Ontario Sheep Farmers shared information about a recent discussion aimed at the development of a new animal health strategy. Leaders from the meat and dairy industries, along with major processors, have agreed to champion the development of a new organization called Animal Health Canada, which would be under the umbrella of the National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Council. The goal is to strengthen Canada's capacity for animal disease prevention, preparedness and response. A financial commitment from 13 participating stakeholders has been secured. The next step is to engage in a building process to develop the new model and present a proposal to Federal, Provincial, Territorial Ministers in July 2019. Commitment is needed by all parties to coordinate the efforts of an industry-government initiative which has a targeted implementation date of July 2020.

Agri-Food and Aquaculture Targeted Regulatory Review

AAFC and CFIA provided an update on the consultation outcomes of this review and provided direction on the next steps for the meat sector. Budget 2018 identified the agri-food and aquaculture sector as one of three initial areas for targeted regulatory review which is focused on supporting innovation and business investment. Regulatory review has been a key priority for a number of years. Issues previously identified through stakeholder engagement, along with recent recommendations from the Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table, are being used to formulate a roadmap with a timeline for changes to existing regulatory priorities. A great deal of input was received from the meat sector which will feed into the "What We Heard Report" to be published by Treasury Board Secretariat in January/February 2019. Also, in the recently released "Fall Economic Statement of 2018", a number of announcements were made relating to other regulatory change initiatives which further supports the need for a targeted review.

Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table (EST)

The final report of the Economic Strategy Tables was released in September 2018 and the Government of Canada is responding to recommendations, including tax competitiveness, transportation, increasing market diversification and regulatory agility. Industry members continue to stress the importance of labour and interprovincial trade barriers as key concerns and would like to see actions as well as next steps.

There is a clear commitment from the ESTs to keep the momentum going, and monitor the progress of these recommendations. ShVCRT members supported putting forth a response/reaction to the final report of the ESTs by organizing a call of all working group chairs. (Action item 8-3)

Research – Meat and Carcass

A presentation was received on the "Optimizing Meat and Carcass Quality" literature review undertaken in 2017 to 2018 through the Meat and Carcass Quality Working Group. The study findings identified current information and research gaps, along with best practices for sheep management and genetics to improve meat and carcass quality.

Ontario’s Lamb Grading study (2017) set out to gather industry data to enable benchmarking and analysis of carcass quality and value. The study illustrated the benefits of effective grading, and concluded that the creation of a common language (for example, grading system) is key to industry performance and growth. It was agreed to defer this topic to the Meat and Carcass Quality Working Group, in conjunction with the Profitability Working Group, to gather relevant information and develop a potential sector-wide approach to meat grading. (Action item 8-4)

AAFC provided a summary of a discussion with CFIA in April 2018 on the topic of Over Twelve Month (OTM) lamb. According to the CFIA, this issue is related to the current Canadian grading standards which could be fixed, for example, by an amendment to these standards. A detailed explanation on the process for making changes was provided. In order to move forward on this topic, the Meat and Carcass Quality Working Group will develop a proposed sector approach to address issues around the grading and labelling of OTM/mutton. A draft proposal will be circulated to ShVCRT members for endorsement. (Action item 8-5)

Follow up items from November, 2017 meeting

AAFC provided an update on the Meat Processing Labour Action Plan. Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) co-leads a service level working group with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) on the subject of Temporary Foreign Workers. It was noted that the biometric screening program will be expanded to include foreign nationals from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas effective December 31, 2018.

Industry shared information on their market access activities over the past year. Industry members requested a discussion with federal government representatives to identify and understand means and mechanisms available to address current sheep trade irritants. (Action item 8-6)

Furthermore, industry members requested tangible commitments from the federal government to undertake actions to address priority trade irritants. (Action item 8-7)

Sustainability/Public Trust

An overview of public trust research in the red meat industry was presented by Orion Global Business Sustainability Consultants. The "Guidance for Implementing the Journey to Public Trust Framework" put forth 27 recommendations and looked at possibly collaborating on implementation within the Canadian meat sectors. Industry expressed a desire to see a net benefit to producers for imbedding public trust practices in their daily activities. Once the benefits are evident, they predict there will be an uptake in the program.

The role of manager for the Public Trust Steering Committee has been taken over by the CFA. CFA is currently establishing a baseline by which to measure the PTSC’s progress, and is identifying priorities for the next fiscal year.

Groupe Agéco presented an overview of a study (undertaken for Ontario Sheep Farmers), on the Life Cycle Assessment of Sheep Production in Ontario. The project’s main objectives were to quantify the environmental impact and assess potential footprint reduction or increases under different scenarios. Results were presented for four environmental indicators (climate change, energy use, land use, and water consumption), and compared two different systems (annual spring lambing versus accelerated lambing). Results indicated a lower environmental impact for emissions (climate change), water consumption and land use associated with accelerated lambing.

North American Lamb Company (NALC)

This newly merged entity (July 2018) controls lamb production and marketing for genetics, breeding, finishing, processing and sales. Based on current figures, NALC production would equal approximately 6% of Canadian consumption whereas 64% is met through imports. NALC is interested in developing and growing a profitable, value added sheep industry in North America. The main impediments for growth are the inconsistent supply and quality, and limited seasonal lambing. NALC shared its value proposition statement which is directed to build year-round lamb production, meeting consumer specifications, with required margins for the industry overall.

Working Group membership refresh

ShVCRT members were invited to self-declare their interest in joining the existing six working groups:

  • Meat and Carcass Quality
  • Profitability
  • Social License
  • Research
  • Health Strategies
  • Market Access

Existing members of these working groups will be requested to confirm their ongoing participation via email in the near future.

The Social License Working Group chair reported on recent developments of the US GM Disclosure Working Group, along with providing an update on the January 2018 call of this group.

Social License Working Group agreed to take the 'se of hormones' topic back for further discussion. Furthermore, the ShVCRT members supported the topic of cell cultured meat being added to its mandate. (Action item 8-8)

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)/Antimicrobial use (AMU)

CFIA shared its Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Engagement Plan and outlined Canada’s response to AMR through the new Pan-Canadian Action Plan. Development of the action plan will be completed in consultation with other stakeholders through a series of engagement sessions and it is expected the action plan will be finalized in spring 2019. Industry members were encouraged to provide their input to identify particular issues for the sector. The Health Strategies Working Group has focused on prioritizing vaccines and drugs. The ShVCRT support the Health Strategies Working Group to look at possible recommendations for the development of the AMR Action Plan. (Action item 8-9)


AAFC shared an overview of the Value Chain Roundtable renewal process. VCRTs were initially created in 2003 to develop export market strategies and are currently more broadly-focused to support industry-government collaboration to drive economic growth and sector development. As part of a renewal/revitalization process, AAFC circulated a survey to members in fall 2018. AAFC will continue to engage with roundtable members and chairs in 2019.

Feedback from the joint session of the ShVCRT and the Beef Value Chain Roundtable was positive and there is a willingness to consider blending other roundtables in a similar format in the future.

The date for the next ShVCRT meeting will tentatively take place in fall 2019. Refer to Annex A for action items generated; and Annex B for list of participants.

Annex A: Action items

Meeting / Item # Description Responsibility Timeline
8-1 Invite officials from the International Affairs Branch at the next meeting of the BVCRT and ShVCRT. AAFC Fall 2019
8-2 Sheep industry representatives will reach out to the CBGA to discuss potential collaboration with regard to carcass grading. Industry February 2019
8-3 Call of all working group chairs will be organized to identify elements to be put forward by the VCRT in response to the report of the Economic Strategy Table. Industry January 2019
8-4 Meat and Carcass Quality Working Group, in conjunction with Profitability Working Group, will undertake to gather relevant information and develop potential sector-wide approach to meat grading. Industry March 2019
8-5 Meat and Carcass Quality Working Group will work to develop a proposed sector approach to address issues around the grading and labelling of OTM/mutton.

Draft proposal will be circulated to VCRT members for endorsement.

Industry April 2019
8-6 Industry members of the ShVCRT request discussions with the federal government to identify and understand means and mechanisms available to address current sheep trade irritants. Industry January 2019
8-7 Industry members of the ShVCRT request tangible commitment from the federal government to undertake actions to address priority trade irritants. Recommendation
8-8 ShVCRT members support the topic of cell cultured meat being added to the mandate of the Social License Working Group. Industry/AAFC January 2019
8-9 ShVCRT supports the Health Strategies Working Group to look at possible recommendations for the development of the AMR Action Plan. Industry January 2019

Annex B: Participants


  • Hélène Méthot – Centre d'expertise en production ovine du Québec (CEPOQ)
  • Katherine MacDonald – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)


  • Corlena Patterson – Canadian Sheep Federation (CSF)
  • Brian Greaves – Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers (CCWG)
  • Miles Kliner – SunGold Specialty Meats
  • Darlene Stein – Alberta Lamb Producers (ALP)
  • Liezel Kennedy – Saskatchewan Sheep Development Board (SSDB)
  • Jennifer MacTavish – Ontario Sheep Farmers (OSF)
  • Pierre Lessard - Les Éleveurs d'Ovins du Québec (LEOQ)
  • Marc Carere – OSF
  • Leda Villeneuve - CEPOQ
  • Phil Kolodychuk – CSF
  • Bill McCutcheon – Ontario Lamb Marketing
  • Harry Elsinga – Prince Edward Island Sheep Breeders’ Association
  • Morgan Moore – Manitoba Sheep Association
  • Jocelyne McGraw – New Brunswick Sheep Breeders’ Association
  • Royce Lodoen – Young farmer
  • Jeff deJong – Young farmer

Provincial governments

  • Tim Metzger – Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)
  • Marie-Pier Huot – Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ)
  • Linda Fox – Manitoba Department of Agriculture

Federal government

  • Donald Boucher – AAFC

Federal observers

  • Paul Way – AAFC
  • Oscar Lopez Campos – AAFC

Provincial observers

  • Jillian Craig – OMAFRA


  • Jennifer Miner – CFIA (by phone)
  • David Moss – Canadian Cattlemen’s Association
  • Matthew Guertin – AAFC (by phone)
  • Darlene Blair – CFIA (by phone)
  • Michael Ash – AAFC (by phone)
  • Bryden Schmidt – University of Lethbridge
  • David Smith – Orion Global (by phone)
  • Ron Bonnett – Canadian Federation of Agriculture
  • Jean-Michel Couture – Groupe Agéco
  • Gary Alexander – North American Lamb Company
  • Aline Dimitri – CFIA (by phone)

Federal support

  • Sandra Liston – AAFC
  • Glenda Taylor – AAFC
  • Virginie Rochet – AAFC
  • Monique Heise – AAFC

Industry observers

  • Gord Schroeder – SSDB
  • Denis Pelletier – LEOQ
  • Linda Brandes – Canadian Sheep Breeders Association
  • Allan Ribbink – CCWG
  • Kate Basford – Manitoba Sheep Association
  • Beth Kyle – ALP
  • Sheri Schweb – British Columbia Sheep Federation
  • Ted Skinner – Canadian Sheep Breeders Association
  • Joseph Leck – Sheep Producers Association of Nova Scotia
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