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Fifty-first meeting of the Beef Value Chain Roundtable: Meeting Summary

May 8 to 9, 2019 - Ottawa, Ontario

Key decision points

  • Collaboration in the animal protein structure allows for synergy and the sharing of information.
  • The impact of existing and future regulations continues to challenge industry advancement.

Introduction

Industry and Government Co-chairs welcomed members, observers, guests and youth representatives to the BVCRT. This meeting included a joint session between the BVCRT and the Pork Value Chain Roundtable (PVCRT).

Action Items are identified throughout the summary and the full participant list is available in Annex A.

Canadian Beef Innovation Network (CBIN)

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) and the Canadian Beef Breeds Council (CBBC) provided an overview of the CBIN. The Network is a platform for genetic innovation and technology adoption designed to improve sustainable beef production, and is a key deliverable of the National Beef Strategy. CBIN is looking to secure funding for ongoing network development and completion of a pilot project to demonstrate value of genetic improvement to the entire beef supply chain.

Alberta Competitiveness Report

National Cattle Feeders’ Association (NCFA) shared a draft report that compared competitiveness of beef production in Alberta to select US states (for example, Texas, Nebraska and Kansas). This study, which also links to the National Beef Strategy, is building a roadmap to improve business, policy and regulatory environments. Early indications show there are many small disadvantages across a variety of variables (for example, inputs, tax policy, government labour policy). Industry members questioned the lack of growth in the Canadian cattle herd and one factor suggested was ongoing regulatory challenges.

Eastern Canada Supply and Capacity

CCA noted there are significant problems with the movement of cattle and slaughter capacity through Eastern Canada currently. This has resulted in depressed prices, delays in cattle slaughter and a lack of market security. Contributing factors in recent months include:

A working group has been formed to find solutions/actions for both the short- and medium-term.

National Beef Strategy (NBS)

CCA presented the revised National Beef Strategy with goals in place for 2020 to 2024. The presentation provided updates on the four pillars of the strategy (Beef Demand, Competitiveness, Productivity, Connectivity), listed new challenges/opportunities and outlined focus areas for the strategy. As the Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table (EST) themes are similar to NBS, an ad-hoc group developed a report (Action Item 50-4) which outlined synergies between the Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table’s final report and the National Beef Strategy. This report was shared at the joint Beef and Pork Roundtable session.

Veal Working Group

The Veal Working Group shared a brief update detailing activities and areas of focus including:

Youth Representation

Representatives from the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders program provided their perspectives on the roundtable meeting and the challenges and opportunities they see for the beef sector.

The following information covers the joint session between the Beef Value Chain Roundtable and the Pork Value Chain Roundtable.

Agri-SubCommitee on Food Safety (ASFS)

The BVCRT Industry Co-chair provided a brief update on the ASFS. This subcommittee is made up of industry representatives and the four federal departments/agencies that have a role in food safety. Their goal is to strengthen relationships among all food safety stakeholders and help contribute to the continuous improvement of food safety policies and standards.

All Chairs Forum Debrief

The All Chairs Forum was active in 2019. On April 16, 2019, members discussed roundtable revitalization, labour issues and the future vision of the Economic Strategy Tables (EST).

Value Chain Roundtable (VCRT) Revitalization

AAFC shared an overview of the Value Chain Roundtable revitalization initiatives.

Industry stakeholders found value in the joint Beef and Pork session and were open to an animal protein amalgamation as there are many cross-cutting issues.

There were concerns around how provincial governments will fit in with revitalization and encouraged a discussion at the upcoming Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) meeting.

Both sectors want the new model to include separate meetings that address commodity-specific issues.

Industry members stressed the importance of having federal regulators at the table.

Labour

AAFC is actively engaged with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on the labour file to ensure labour challenges experienced by the agriculture sector are understood. A number of initiatives have begun, or will be launched in summer 2019, and a one-page summary is provided (Labour Backgrounder) in Annex B.

All roundtable members were encouraged to read the What We Heard report from ESDC.

Industry raised concerns about the implication of the cap on processors’ capacity to access workers through the Agri-Food pilot.

Economic Strategy Table – Phase 2

The Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table is moving into Phase 2 of implementation. Both the Fall Economic Statement and the 2019 Federal Budget responded to the EST’s ambitious targets and roundtables can play a leading role in furthering the EST’s recommendations. A regulatory roadmap is being drafted and is planned for release by the end of June 2019.

Linkages between the Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table and the National Beef Strategy

National Cattle Feeders’ Association prepared a discussion paper that illustrates numerous synergies between the Agri-Food EST and the National Beef Strategy. It was agreed that BVCRT members will continue to strengthen the Agri-Food EST’s goals and will work to ensure priorities can be effectively advanced.

Trade and market diversification

BVCRT and PVCRT members were provided with updates on trade agreements and negotiations, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the European Union (EU) and China. Key highlights included:

Disease Management

A variety of issues were discussed under disease management. Key elements were:

Protein Demand

The Industry Co-chair led a discussion about the global demand for protein and identified where opportunities exist. Industry members would like Health Canada to address Front of Package labelling and provide direction from the federal government on how cultured proteins will be labelled and regulated.

The CCA outlined how beef and pork stakeholders can harmonize with key sectors in the food chain.

Conclusion

BVCRT and PVCRT members found value in this joint roundtable session and identified synergies moving forward.

The next BVCRT meeting will take place in early 2020.

Annex A: Participants

Co-chairs

Industry Members

Provincial Government Members

Federal Government Members

Federal Government Observers

Cattlemen’s Young Leaders (Youth representation)

Industry Observers

Speakers and Guests

Federal Support

Annex B: Labour Background

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is actively engaged with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on the labour file to ensure that the labour challenges experienced by the agriculture sector is understood. ESDC completed a review of the Primary Ag stream of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) in fall 2018. They hosted approximately 14 engagement sessions with agriculture stakeholders and released a What We Hear Report in winter 2019.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), in conjunction with ESDC, created a Service Delivery Working Group (SDWG) in June 2018 following the Minister’s Roundtable in May 2018. The SDWG addresses administrative issues faced by the sector such as Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), processing delays and triaging urgent cases faced by the agriculture sector through dedicated Service Canada offices. The SDWG was also used to showcase the new LMIA on-line pilot that is expected to start to be released in June 2019. It will transition from a paper-based process to an on-line platform thereby speeding up processing and reducing delays caused by incomplete or incorrectly completed forms.

IRCC has launched/announced several immigration pilots to transition and bring in workers as permanent residents to help respond to labour market gaps:

IRCC also announced an additional 2,000 spaces under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), which increases the opportunity to transition intermediate skilled workers to permanent residency. AAFC has been working with provincial counterparts to connect the agriculture reps with the respective immigration reps so that the PNP can be leveraged to address the needs of the agriculture sector.

ESDC is also working on proposed program improvements based on the consultations, and are looking at such things as simplifying the TFWP, examining the National Commodities list, and outlining a recognized employer model. ESDC has also committed to re-consult with industry on the proposed changes prior to implementing them, which is a change from how program changes were made in 2014.

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