Parliamentary Secretary for Trade, General Andrew Leslie addressing attendees at a townhall sponsored by University of Alberta and Global Affairs Canada.
Photo Credit: Casey Vander Ploeg
Last month, representatives of the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association headed to Ottawa to participate in a series of meetings between the National Cattle Feeders’ Association (NCFA) and Canadian politicians.
The meetings provided an opportunity to put the issues and challenges facing Canada’s cattle feeders in front of key members of government. The critical issues discussed included:
- Labour: Changes are needed to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), so cattle feeders and beef processors can access desperately needed workers. Employers are currently forced to endure a lengthy and convoluted process rife with red tape and changing requirements, which takes many months to complete.
- Infrastructure: Significant funding is needed to upgrade rural infrastructure, particularly roads and bridges. Current investment is heavily swayed to urban areas, but it is the rural areas where much of the economic activity occurs, including mining, agriculture, oil and gas, and transportation.
- NAFTA: A successful outcome to the negotiations is needed to encourage and facilitate international trade.
- TPP: Now called the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – even though the U.S. has now left the partnership, it is important for our industry that Canada signs on and keeps the negotiated market provisions as they were before.
- EU trade: EU approval of Canadian food safety practices will enable us to start filling our tariff-free quota under the agreement.
- China: Canada needs the same access to China as the U.S. successfully achieved in June 2017. Following a recent agriculture trade mission to China by Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, bone-in beef will hopefully start moving soon and a pilot project will be created to export Canadian fresh-chilled beef. While not the same access afforded to U.S. beef, it is a step in the right direction.
NCFA board meeting
During the same trip, an NCFA board meeting was held. Several influential officials attended to discuss pressing issues:
- Dr. Mary-Jane Ireland, director general of the Health Canada Veterinary Drugs Directorate (VDD) and Dr. Manisha Mehrotra (also of VDD): New federal regulations for antimicrobial usage.
- Dr. Mohit Baxi, director of animal import and export at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA): Movement of live cattle across the border.
- Brian Innes, chair of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA), Claire Citeau, executive director of CAFTA, John Weekes and the Canadian Meat Council: Trade.
To learn more about other ways that ACFA advocates for Alberta’s cattle feeders, visit our Advocacy Page.