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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.

  • Action Item 51-1 (Beef): The BVCRT supports the further development of the Canadian Beef Innovation Network’s business plan and progress will be reported back to the BVCRT. Responsibility is CCA and CBBC. Timeframe is 2020.

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:

  • Additional dairy animals being processed (culls, dairy-beef)
  • The sale of Canadian slaughter cattle is restricted due to US-South Korean segregation requirements.
  • Labour challenges for increased shifts at one major processing plant in Ontario

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

  • Action Item 51-2 (Beef): Industry members of the BVCRT request AAFC to devote significant resources to work with industry on the development of both short- and medium-term solutions to address the lack of sufficient processing capacity in Eastern Canada. AAFC will ensure the Minister is informed by end of June (six weeks) and will share an update with the BVCRT on potential actions that could be taken. Responsibility is AAFC, BFO and CCA. Timeframe is June 30, 2019.

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.

  • Action Item 51-3 (Beef): BVCRT members to provide feedback to CCA about the National Beef Strategy. Responsibility is CCA and timeframe is June 2019.
  • Action Item 51-4 (Beef): CMC will provide a report on sessions related to the Safe Foods for Canadians Regulations at the next BVCRT in 2020. Responsibility is Canadian Meat Council and the timeframe is winter 2020.

Veal Working Group

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

  • Identifying priority areas for export development and building relationships with EU partners
  • Collaborating with industry and government partners on veterinary products, transport regulations and the Dairy Code of Practice
  • Working with CFIA to inform EU of veal implant protocol

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.

  • 51-5 (Beef and Pork): BVCRT and PVCRT participants will draft a letter to the Ministers of ESDC and IRCC (copying Minister of AAFC) to highlight the impact of the systemic and critical labour shortage facing the Canadian agriculture and ag food sector. In particular, it will focus on solutions to pathways to permanent residency. For example, the success of the new agri-food pilot in overcoming these challenges for processing depends on plants being exempt from ESDC’s cap limits. Responsibility is Industry Co-chairs for Beef and Pork Roundtables. Timeframe is June 30, 2019.

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:

  • The Assistant Deputy Minister from the International Affairs Branch (IAB) shared an overview of its trade initiatives. While trade disputes are more complex currently (protectionism, reluctance to adhere to science-based evidence, dispute mechanisms) the IAB structure is advantageous because it can address both trade and regulatory issues at a faster pace than in the past. Industry members agreed that the global trade environment is tense, and they value the collaborative work that is required from both government and industry.
  • Several Asia-Pacific economies, such as Thailand, South Korea and Taiwan, have informally expressed their interest in joining the CPTPP.
  • Trade policy with China continues to be challenging.
  • The EU has very specific market preferences and ongoing issues, such as carcass washes (beef) and vet certifications/drugs, will need to be monitored.

Disease Management

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

  • The newly formed Animal Health Canada Working Group continues to make progress and there is a plan to present its collaborative approach on animal health governance to the FPT Ministers in July 2019. Its work plan includes an assessment/review of national and international animal health initiatives as well the identification of compensation and insurance options. The Working Group is also reviewing a variety of animal disease models from previous animal health response activities (disease outbreaks) and will apply some lessons learned to the management of African Swine Fever (ASF). Industry members noted the reality of ASF is challenging without a governance model and stressed the importance of getting Animal Health Canada fully activated. As a result, a high-level government and industry “Champions Steering Committee” will be established. Ongoing outreach to industry stakeholders and FPT governments was also recommended.
    Although members of the Pork Value Chain Roundtable are fully engaged in ASF, a summary of issues/lessons learned was provided to both the beef and pork roundtable members. A key recommendation for all stakeholders in the meat sector was to engage cohesively on an emergency management action plan.
  • CCA shared a strategy on the potential merits of a Food and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank for Canada. An outbreak of FMD in Canada would result in immediate closure of borders/export markets followed by an 18-month waiting period prior to border reopening. Recommendations proposed:
    • The Livestock Market Interruption Strategy (LMIS), continue its work on vaccination and recovery strategies.
    • A joint working group (beef, pork, sheep, goats) be formed that analyzes and develops national and regional strategies in collaboration with Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and AAFC.
    • Continued discussions for an enhanced investment in a vaccine bank through Animal Health Canada.
  • CFIA officials shared information on the proposed Humane Transport Regulations, which are scheduled to come into effect in February 2020. Industry members identified a significant number of challenges around these new regulations and saw them as a great burden for industry. While ranchers and hog producers are open to changes to the regulations (clearer language, outcome-based objectives, removal of obsolete requirements), they stated the current regulations are effective. CFIA agreed to participate in a new working group to review the guidance document with industry in an effort to address industry concerns.
    • Action item 51-6 (Beef and Pork): In collaboration with CFIA, BVCRT and PVCRT participants will form a time-limited task force to further the discussion on the impact and implementation of the Humane Transport Regulations including enforcement, revision of the interpretive guide and the examination of new science. Responsibility is members of BVCRT, PVCRT, CFIA, AAFC. Timeframe is fall 2019.
  • CFIA provided information about antimicrobial alternatives, approvals and new feed products. The Pan Canadian Action Plan will be released in summer 2019 but CFIA is also committed to examining options for faster approvals of prebiotic feed additives through an industry-government working group called the Canadian Animal Health Products Regulatory Advisory Committee (CAHPRAC). Industry members were concerned about the lengthy backlog of products that needed approval and recommended increased resources as well as a triage process to help speed up the process through government machinery.
    • Action Item 51-7 (Beef and Pork): CAHPRAC will work with CFIA and Health Canada to identify feed and vet drug priorities that can influence the regulatory process. CAHPRAC will report back to the next roundtable meeting. Responsibility is CAHPRAC and timeframe is winter 2020.

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.

  • Action Item 51-8: With the revised VCRT design, the BVCRT and PVCRT recommends a format that includes a (half day) commodity specific session to be held in conjunction with the proposed animal protein round table. A cross-cutting group on sustainability that involves both livestock and crops is also recommended recognizing the benefits of a balanced agriculture system in Canada.

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

  • Dennis Laycraft, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA)
  • Luc Marchand, (Interim Chair) Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

Industry Members

  • Charlie Christie, Alberta Beef Producers
  • Philippe Alain, Producteurs de Bovins du Québec
  • Andrea Brocklebank, Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC)
  • Jennifer Haley, Canadian Veal Association (by phone)
  • Bob Lowe, CCA
  • Tyler Bjornson, JBS Canada
  • Cheryl Schroeder, Dairy Farmers of Canada
  • Jim Smolik, Cargill Foods
  • Kim O’Neil, Canadian Meat Council (CMC)
  • Ron Glaser, Canada Beef Inc.
  • Casey Vander Ploeg, National Cattle Feeders’ Association
  • Michael Latimer, Canadian Beef Breeds Council
  • Graham Clarke, Canadian Renderers Association
  • John Baker, Ontario Corn Fed Beef

Provincial Government Members

  • Theo Bryson, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
  • Tim Metzger, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Keith Lehman, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (by phone)
  • Damien Chaput, MAPAQ

Federal Government Members

  • Connie Zagrosh, Health Canada (by phone)

Federal Government Observers

  • Diane Lambert, AAFC (by phone)
  • Lynn Fortin, GAC
  • Tim Rennie, AAFC

Cattlemen’s Young Leaders (Youth representation)

  • Amy Higgins
  • Melissa Downing

Industry Observers

  • Stina Nagel, CCA
  • Fawn Jackson, CCA
  • Brenna Grant, CCA
  • David Moss, CCA
  • Jean Szkotnicki, Canadian Animal Health Institute
  • Richard Robinson, Canadian Beef Grading Agency
  • Larry Thomas, CCA
  • Reynold Bergen, BCRC
  • Monica Hadarits, Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
  • Terry Grajczyk, CCA (by phone)
  • Richard Horne, Beef Farmers of Ontario
  • Janice Tranberg, National Cattle Feeders’ Association
  • Carmen Koning, Canadian Angus Association (by phone)
  • Maureen Cousins, Manitoba Beef Producers (by phone)
  • Mike McMorris, AgSights
  • Betty-Jo Almond, AgSights
  • Deb Wilson, BIXS
  • Jay Cross, University of Alberta (by phone)
  • Sandy Russell, Spring Creek Land and Cattle Consulting (by phone)
  • Brady Stadnicki, CCA
  • Greg Nolan, Artisan Farms Direct Ltd.
  • André Roy, Quebec Cattle Producers
  • Guy Seguin, Dairy Farmers of Canada (by phone)
  • Campbell Hart, CCA
  • Duane Ellard, Canada Beef Inc.
  • Olivier Lavigne-Lacroix, Cargill

Speakers and Guests

  • Fred Gorrell, IAB
  • Evan Lewis, AAFC
  • Marco Valicenti, AAFC
  • Axel Ndayisaba, AAFC
  • Rory McAlpine, Maple Leaf Inc.
  • Megan Bergman, National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Council
  • Rob McNabb, CCA (by phone)
  • Aline Dimitri, CFIA
  • Michelle Illing, CFIA
  • Manisha Mehrotra, Health Canada
  • Mary Ann Binnie, Canadian Pork Council

Federal Support

  • Christine Moses, AAFC
  • Glenda Taylor, AAFC
  • Julie Dawson, AAFC
  • Sylvie Brûlé, AAFC

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:

  • The Atlantic pilot continues to work with employers in Atlantic Canada to respond to their specific needs.
  • Rural and Northern Immigration pilot, announced in February 2019, focuses on labour gaps in rural and northern communities with economic development plans.
  • The Agri-food pilot, announced in Budget 2019, will bring in full-time, non-seasonal agriculture workers.

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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