An Inside Look at How NCFA Works For You in Ottawa (Even In a Pandemic)

The National Cattle Feeders’ Association (NCFA) serves as a unified voice for Canada’s fed cattle producers. NCFA is governed by an eight member Board that includes seven directors appointed by our provincial member organizations (including Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association), plus another director representing the Canadian Cattlemens’ Association (CCA).

NCFA maintains an effective and ongoing presence in Ottawa through a highly dedicated team of consultants who lend their expertise and advice on our various political, regulatory, and trade issues. One of these consultants, Cathy Jo Noble, offered us an inside look at how they work for you in Ottawa, and how 2020 was a little bit different:

NCFA has organized federal lobby days in Ottawa since 2013. The goal of the lobby day/week is to increase the profile of NCFA amongst political decision makers and raise NCFA priority issues for their members.

The lobby days have (usually!) entailed of the NCFA Staff, NCFA Directors and Provincial Staff conducting a ‘blitz’ of in-person meetings on Parliament Hill with MPs, Senators and political staffers. Previous lobby days included a MP breakfast in the Parliamentary restaurant followed by a day of meetings. During these days, teams were formed (combinations of producer directors and staff) and these teams would deliver consistent key messages to the political decision makers on NCFA priorities.

This year because of the pandemic (meaning MPs/Senators/Staffers were not in Ottawa and travel restrictions were in place for Directors/Staff) we held a virtual lobby week. Over the course of a week (October 20-26) – NCFA teams met virtually with political decision makers to present NCFA priorities. Over 25 meetings took place that week, which built upon over 15 virtual meeting NCFA staff had held over the summer and fall.

Targeted decision makers were the ‘home’ MP of NCFA Directors, Ministerial staff, Parliamentary Secretaries, Opposition Critics, Senators and Parliamentary Committee members. Ensuring a balance of COVID urgent topics were balanced with ongoing issues, the key priority issues raised were: BRM Reform, Labour, Infrastructure, and Trade.

Follow up told us that the decision makers appreciated:

1) speaking to cattle feeders directly (not just staff)

2) the detail and clarity of the briefing note

3) the clear and limited number (focused) asks

4) hearing directly about experience of cattle feeders throughout the pandemic

Even though we had to get creative this year, we were able to effectively connect Canada’s cattle feeders to those responsible for the policies that govern our industry.

Let’s see what 2021 brings!