Alberta Cattle Feeders Call on Government for Immediate Action to Open Borders

Alberta’s cattle feeders need immediate action! Border crossings must be opened; federal and provincial governments alike NEED to enforce the law and ensure highways and border crossings are open!

Alberta’s cattle feeders, and the entire agricultural value chain, have been trying to inform protestors and government alike to the significant impact this ongoing blockade is having on our rural economy. While we understand the frustrations over remaining mandates and support the right to protest, this prolonged blocking of vital roads and borders is illegal and is having a significant negative impact on the important economic trade these locations support. On Saturday February 12, the Canada Border Services Agency suspended services at the Coutts port of entry. Trucks carrying live cattle across this international border are suspended. This will impact everyone along the beef value chain from cow-calf operators all the way to processors.

Our government needs to take immediate, tangible action to stop this illegal activity to restore trade and supply chain.

“The cattle industry has suffered already significant losses over the last year due to packing plant shutdowns, drought, feed shortages, and rail and transport issues; this industry cannot afford further, preventable losses,” says Greg Schmidt, local Alberta beef producer and Chair of the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association.

Alberta’s cattle feeding sector generates $2.9 billion in economic output and $983 million in gross domestic product annually, directly employing ~20 000 people. Every day the border is closed, it is costing Alberta’s cattle feeders in extra feed, which is already in short supply, and in cattle prices. These losses will trickle down to calf purchases.

ACFA and its members ask the protestors to recognize the significant harm they are causing to their own neighbours, colleagues, and industry. We are not asking for protests to stop, rather that the approach is changed so not to further detriment trade and the agriculture and agri-food industry.
As protestors continue to block these borders, our provincial government must enact legal solutions to ensure the border is reopened before there are irreversible effects economically, on animal welfare, and human mental health.

For more information, please contact: 

Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association
403.250.2509
info@cattlefeeders.ca

Statement on Canada-U.S. Border Disruption

February 3, 2022

Calgary, AB – With the prolonged disruptions at the Canada-U.S. border crossing, Canada’s beef industry has serious concerns with supply chain challenges, including the lack of access to feed coming from the U.S. and impacts on cross border movement of cattle and meat products.

Alberta Beef Producers (ABP), Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association (ACFA), and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) are calling for a timely resolution and the restoration of our essential supply chain.

ABP, ACFA, and CCA want to see the blockade resolved safely and effectively for truckers, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, producers, and all involved. In 2020, food and agriculture were deemed an essential service to continue moving supply chains during the pandemic, and it is critical agriculture continues to be able to operate without disruption.

The Canadian and American beef industries are highly integrated. Every day the industry is unable to move cattle, beef, or access feed puts the entire supply chain at risk. Canadian beef producers are already facing challenging supply issues from access to feed, following the devastating drought conditions in 2021, limited rail access, and trucking shortages.

Blocking the transport of beef to cross border consumers is slowing down processing in Canada and creating a backlog at processing facilities, feedlots and farms and ranches. The obstruction is also blocking the growing critical supplies of feed that are needed across western Canada.

ABP, ACFA, and CCA continue to monitor developments and work with the federal and provincial governments, and other stakeholders to keep all components of the beef supply chain functioning.

 

Quotes:

“The beef industry is aware of the situation evolving at the Canada-U.S. border crossing. Our focus remains on the people who are affected by immediate delays to the beef supply chain and ensuring the welfare of animals. Further impacts to cattle prices must be avoided.”

Dr. Melanie Wowk, ABP Chair

 

“The unintended consequences of these closures and delays further affect already existing shortages on products like animal feed that have been caused by drought, trade disruptions, and transport issues. Transportation delays can severely impact the beef supply chain from cattle feed to grocery shelves.”

Greg Schmidt, Chair, ACFA

 

“Maintaining a stable supply chain is critical to Canadian beef production. The evolving situation at the U.S.-Canada border and the transportation delays are resulting in major impacts for the entire beef supply chain.”

Bob Lowe, CCA President

 

For further information, contact:

 

Katelyn Laverdure
Lead, Stakeholder Communications

Alberta Beef Producers

403-451-0931|KatelynL@albertabeef.org

 

Megan Madden

Communications Manager

Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association

780-686-8807 | mmadden@cattlefeeders.ca

 

Michelle McMullen

Communications Manager

Canadian Cattlemen’s Association

403-561-8578| mcmullenm@cattle.ca

 

 

Farm groups react to impending mandatory vaccine mandates for truck drivers

“With a large cross-border trade of incoming feeder cattle, and export of fed cattle, this will have an significant impact on our industry as a large number of drivers have not been vaccinated,” says Janice Tranberg, executive director of the Alberta Cattle Feeders Association.

The cattle industry is not the only sector that is concerned as can be read here in the complete article on RealAgriculture.com

Cattle Producers Have the Beef but Aren’t Getting the Bucks

or feedlot operator Ryan Kasko, the big factor is plain to see — a shortage of processing capacity in Canada

“One of the biggest challenges is that there are too many cattle in North America for the capacity that the packers have to process them,” said Kasko, CEO of Kasko Cattle Company in Coaldale.

“Beef demand is really, really strong, so prices (for beef) went up and they remain very strong,” said Kasko. “That’s really largely why prices are high for beef.

“But the money hasn’t flowed back to producers because there’s an abundance of cattle that are ready in the near term.”

Full article here: Cattle producers have the beef but aren’t getting the bucks

 

Happy Holidays and Good Bye 2021!

Happy Holidays from your Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association!
President and CEO Janice Tranberg gives you an idea of how 2021 went for ACFA and brings some holiday cheer in this quick update:

ACFA MidYear Update

While we had hoped to update our members without using the word ‘covid’ by now, we have still been working hard for you all year, focusing on advocacy, member value, collaboration, and partnership.
See what we have been up to here:

Alberta Feedlot Hosts Vaccine Clinic for Employees and Community

It all started with a COVID-19 outbreak in March on VRP Farms in Picture Butte, Alberta. “It was an extremely trying time,” says Jolayne Farn, HR Manager of VRP. “Having 11 confirmed cases and 42 staff off work and quarantined showed us we never wanted to have to operate like that again. Even though we currently had strict control measures in place to help prevent COVID -19 from entering our facilities it still found us.”

Farn says it affected everyone from barn crew, pen riders to the management team and the business saw significant impacts. “1 lot had NO riders, 4 lots were out of commission and ensuring the cattle were fed each day, we were totally off the market for a week, no shipping, no bringing animals in. The affects staggered all the way into the next month,” Farn explains.

VRP Farms operates a number of feedlots and farms, a trucking division and the Roto-Mix business; their reach is far and contact tracing was a significant undertaking. Once vaccines became an option for Canadians, VRP got to work ensuring their employees were protected.

‘For the health and safety of our employees, our farm, and our community, we wanted everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” says Farn. VRP recently brought in 11 (SAWP) seasonal agricultural workers and were working with Calgary Catholic Immigration Society to obtain support on newcomer’s settlement support such as – SIN #, bank accounts, PO Box #s, drivers’ licenses etc. This led to the idea of vaccinating everyone on site to reduce travel and logistics coordination.

“We vaccinated about 55 people on site,” says Farn. “We opened it up to neighbouring feedlots and farms as well and it was great to see a couple of other operations join in on the day. We just want other producers to know that their foreign workers are as eligible as the Canadian workers and able to be protected as well.”

ACFA congratulates VRP for leading the way on vaccinating their team; for more information on VRP’s clinic, please contact ACFA.

 

Alberta’s ‘Shipwheel Cattle Feeders’ Recognized For Innovation and Sustainability Efforts

What do compost and bees and manure and fruit and fungus and worms all have in common? They are all part of the regenerative ag system at the innovative and holistic Shipwheel Cattle Feeders in Taber, AB.

Recently awarded an Alltech “Planet of Plenty Award”, Shipwheel was recognized as a farm that is furthering a world of abundance through nutritional and digital technologies, innovation and sustainable management practices in the agri-food sector.
“Everything we do on this land is to honour the past, the present, and to preserve and improve the land for future generations,” says Andrea Stroeve-Sawa, Manager of Shipwheel. Stroeve-Sawa is the fourth generation of the Holtman family and she explains that their holistic mindset and dynamic approach all started with her father, Blake Holtman. “In the early 80s, Dad attended an Allan Savory grazing workshop in Arizona and came home to transition Shipwheel from continuous grazing and cropping to adaptive multipaddock; the rest is history,” she laughs.

Since the grazing records begin in 1982, Shipwheel has improved from 2.36 stock days/acre to 93.5 stock days/acre in 2015. Yes, that 3862% increase is correct! Stroeve-Sawa believes that carbon sequestration is one of the biggest keys to soil regeneration and achieving emissions reduction globally and here at home. “If we can increase soil organic matter just 2% over 629 000 acres in Alberta, which is less than 5% of the farm land in the province, ag could be net zero,” she points out.

One way Shipwheel works towards this goal is by composting the manure and bedding from their feedlot. “Every tonne gets composted,” Stroeve-Sawa explains. “You will see a theme here – Dad is a lifelong learner. He took a course in composting and the next year we implemented it as a manure management strategy.” Once cleaned from the pens, the manure and bedding are windrowed, monitored carefully, and handled with a compost turner to ensure a high-quality end product. All Shipwheel land is soil tested regularly and has not required the nutrients from the compost so 100% of it is sold to neighbouring farms, greenhouses, and gardeners. “By doing this, we are actually improving the land around us as well,” Stroeve-Sawa adds. The holistic approach doesn’t stop at the fenceline; Shipwheel has also integrated integrated, natural practices on all their land, including the yard and garden. Vermicomposting (composting with worms), 3 flow hives of honey bees, pastured chickens, and a fruit orchard all work together to provide stability and profit in all seasons outside of the feedlot.

The feedlot itself sees continuous improvement as well. Once again, initiated by Andrea’s dad taking the initiative to learn something new, a visit to the infamous Bud Williams, followed by his personal visit to Shipwheel left a permanent impact on how cattle are handled on the farm. “His principles have been instilled in me and practiced on our place since the day Bud visited,” explains Stroeve-Sawa. “The principles have even allowed us to manage our animals without the use of prophylactic antibiotics on arrival.” Managing stress on the animals, reducing their cortisol levels ensures the animals is healthy, happy, and gaining efficiently.

“We are always asking ‘What else can we do? How can we go further, do more?’ and then we go out and learn how to make improvements,” concludes Stroeve-Sawa. “We want Shipwheel, this land, and these animals all to be around for a long time to come.”

Korova Feeders Adding Innovative Sustainability Technology

“We believe in growing high quality food right here in Alberta in the most sustainable way possible,” says Kendra Donnelly of Korova Feeders in Acme. Korova is developing a new productive system that will serve as a model for other feedlots in Alberta. The innovative system involves the integration of Rolled Compacted Concrete (RCC) for pen floor surfacing and an onsite pioneering bio-digestor technology to upgrade manure as a feedstock to produce biomethane. This project is anticipated to achieve emission reductions from avoided organic waste decomposition and the production of renewable natural gas (RNG) from waste to displace fossil natural gas. “The change in RNG pricing and the introduction of Clean Fuel Standards (and other policy by provincial and federal governments) is another main reason for why we think bio-digester may work in feedlot sector,” adds Donnelly.

Emissions Reduction Alberta sees the same potential and value in the project as Korova does and recently awarded them $5 million towards the $20,400,000 project. A GHG reduction of 0.73 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e)/head/yr is expected, totalling approximately 25,000 tCO2e for around 34,000 cattle at the feedlot.

Korova Feeders has already implemented RCC technology on their feedlot, so the manure will be more usable to the biodigester than manure from a standard feedlot. RCC was developed in the 1960s, but its application in the feedlot world is still relatively new. The benefits for cattle health, feedlot efficiencies and environmental performance are all being studied, but feedlots using the product have already observed:

– Reduced pen dust, which improves air quality, as well as water quality in the dugouts near the pens

– Reduced loss of clay every time a pen is cleaned. This means less pen maintenance, and also reduces the emissions created by trucks hauling away manure mixed with clay and

– Less mud in pens gives cattle more room to roam and promotes foot health.

“Sustainability is our ultimate motivation across our family businesses; we continue to be innovative to find opportunities for circular systems like the new production system where we can utilize our waste (manure and other organics) for fuel production, heat utilization, nutrient management, water recycle all while producing high quality beef, fruits, and vegetables,” says Donnelly. “It’s a dream, but we are seeing it come to life across the world with innovative technologies being paired with multiple types of production systems.”

 

Learn about the benefits of roller compacted concrete from ACFA member KCL Cattle here

 

 

Alberta producers welcome the consensus on AgriStability proposal, long-term BRM solutions remain needed

Following the March 25th Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) meeting, 11 of Alberta’s producer organizations are pleased the Ministers of Agriculture have come to a consensus on part of the proposed changes to AgriStability, which includes the removal of the reference margin limit, retroactive to 2020, and extending the program enrollment deadline to June 30, 2021. The producer organizations thank Minister Dreeshen, alongside provincial and territorial counterparts, for coming to an agreement on the proposal.

The federal government proposed changes to AgriStability on November 27, 2020, which included the removal of the reference margin limit and increasing the compensation rate from 70 per cent to 80 per cent, adding $170 million dollars to the AgriStability program nationally. Today’s announcement includes $95 million of interim improvements to AgriStability that will benefit Canadian farmers and ranchers over the next two years leading up to the renewal of the next policy framework in 2023.

While this news is welcomed, Alberta’s producer organizations understand a decision to increase the compensation rate from 70 per cent to 80 per cent was not agreed and remains open for discussion. This portion of the federal offer includes an additional $75 million per year of support for Canadian producers. We continue to encourage the provincial and territorial Ministers to consider accepting this part of the proposal, bringing additional support to Canadian farmers and ranchers.

Alberta’s producer organizations appreciate the provincial and federal governments coming to a consensus and extending this year’s AgriStability enrollment deadline from April 30 to June 30. Today’s decision gives farmers and ranchers an enhanced AgriStability program that will inevitably increase enrollment and increase payouts to producers in the short-term.

This press release is written collaboratively by a number of Alberta’s agriculture producer and commodity groups including Alberta Barley, Alberta Beef Producers, Alberta Beekeepers, Alberta Canola, Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association, Alberta Federation of Agriculture, Alberta Pork, Alberta Pulse Growers, Alberta Sugar Beet Growers, Potato Growers of Alberta and Alberta Wheat Commission. These 11 groups represent a cross-section of Alberta’s diverse agriculture industry.