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Meeting with MPs helps foster understanding of cattle feeders’ issues

One of the primary mandates for both ACFA and NCFA is to act as an information source for government policy makers, and to build champions for Canadian agriculture and agri-food. 

Every year, when Parliament breaks for the summer, we get the opportunity to reconnect with MPs as they return to their constituencies. On Aug. 22, NFCA’s Bryan Walton, president and CEO, and Casey Vander Ploeg, vice-president, met with MPs and feedlot operators to discuss a number of pressing issues facing cattle feeders.

Who attended the meeting

The meeting was attended by Rachel Harder, MP for Lethbridge, Glen Motz, MP for Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner and John Barlow, MP for Foothills.

In addition to Bryan and Casey, the ACFA’s members were represented by feedlot operators James Bekkering, Leighton Kolk, Rick Paskal, Cody Schooten, Shane Schooten and Larry Sears.

Important industry issues to watch for

Meetings such as this provide an opportunity for a semi-formal conversation about the issues and concerns of cattle feeders. This gives their representatives in Parliament the information they need for informed and balanced decision making. Some of the issues discussed at the meeting included:

1) Trade. Always a top priority, the agenda included updates on the following trade issues:

    • Trade with China. John Barlow provided a report on a recent Governor General’s Mission to China, which he attended. In addition, a recent agreement to expand U.S. exports to China has left Canada behind, and the need for the federal government to secure the same access for Canada was discussed.
    • NAFTA, and its importance to the cattle feeding industry.
    • Trans-Pacific Partnership, which needs to be altered and rebooted since the U.S. has pulled out.

2) Labour, and the chronic agriculture labour shortage both in Alberta and throughout Canada.

3) Rural Infrastructure.

4) Transportation Regulations.

5) Canada Food Guide.

As with any such meetings, we are confident this meeting provided government officials with a better understanding of the issues facing Alberta’s cattle feeders, and how to support them as they continue to feed Canadians and contribute to the economy.

You can read more about the cattle feeders’ top issues in ‘5 feedlot issues to watch for in 2017’.

5 feedlot issues to watch for in 2017

For our first post of 2017, we’re taking a look at some of the issues likely to affect feedlot operators in upcoming months. Here are five topics worth watching:

1. Transportation

The Canada Gazette recently published new regulations on transport times and conditions for cattle on livestock trucks. Cattle feeders provided input into the process, and will be submitting a response in February.

2. Traceability

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency plans to announce new traceability regulations in 2017. This important piece of legislation has been 10 years in the making due to the complexity of tracing and tracking cattle movement, but regulation is a crucial piece in the protection of public and animal health, and ensuring food safety.

3. Trade

With the U.S. election now over and Trump in the White House all eyes are on the trade implications. Cattle and beef are currently traded in both directions between Canada and the U.S. and any changes to Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) or NAFTA will have huge implications for our industry and Canadians.

4. Safety

The Alberta Farm and Ranch Workplace Act, or Bill 6, was a hot topic during 2016, with many farmers and ranchers concerned about the implications for their businesses. As the government’s roundtable consultation sessions wind up, we will all be interested to learn the outcomes, and their implications for farm safety.

5. Infrastructure

Finding the necessary funding to rehabilitate rural roads and replace bridges also emerged as a hot topic in 2016. Cattle feeders have made representations to both the federal and provincial governments on their responsibility to ensure agriculture can move products to market. While the federal government recently announced $2 billion over the next 11 years for rural infrastructure projects, much more is needed. Pressure on this policy priority must continue up to the spring budgets and beyond. 

Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts, as we explain more about these issues, and explore how they affect cattle feeders, the beef industry and even Canadians.