SCA BEEF PRODUCTION SPECIALIST
You might have already heard about some of the headlines that came out of the Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC). In one of the most widely noted portions of the conference, Mo Jessa, president of the Earls restaurant chain, noted that he was going to work more closely with the Canadian beef industry to meet consumer demands, and Tim Hortons vice-president Sam Health told the audience that what consumers want might supersede the proven safety and environmental benefits of hormones. You might have heard that beef has become more sustainable in the past 30 years, and about the value of hormones in lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
You might also have noted that a Saskatchewan beef farm near Fir Mountain, the Anderson Ranch, won an Environmental Stewardship Award for their work in environmental conservation. And of course, you might have heard about the great speech from Arlene Dickenson of the Dragon’s Den fame.
But there were so many great ideas and important issues that went beyond the headlines. Here’s just a few of them:
- The National Beef Strategy headlined the conference as the four pillars were outlined: Beef Demand, Productivity, Connectivity, and Competitiveness.
- There were VBP Plus representatives from across Canada available to talk about the program, its process, and its benefits. What does the auditing process mean? How often will a farm be audited? If you weren’t at the meeting, give call (306-859-9110) or email when you get the chance!
- Do you know what happens to your check-off dollars? At the Beef Cattle Research Council Annual General Meeting, they reviewed the returns for investment. For each dollar spent on marketing, the industry gains $14. For each dollar spent on research, the industry gains $32.
- The Beef Cattle Research Council Annual General Meeting also reviewed the future of the Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence, as well as research in Antimicrobial Use and Resistance, Food Safety in smaller meat processing plants, and Animal Transportation.
- Along with the BCRC’s AGM, the organization also had Bov-Innovation sessions, which tackled preconditioning, antimicrobial use , forages and cover crops, parasite management, genomics, pain mitigation, and an opportunity to talk one-on-one with the experts. They gave away USB drives filled with information for producers to peruse, so let me know if you’d like me to share their information! BCRC also unveiled the upcoming webinar schedule, found here.
- A Canadian, American, and international view on beef markets discussed feed and cattle prices, but also the amount of labour availability, land reallocation, technology in the beef sector (we need to learn more, faster), price corrections (did you notice the last one?), feed and grain storage capacity (it might not be enough for a large incoming crop), foreign beef taste preferences, and international beef trade into Canada and out of Canada (Welcome, Brazil?). The number of factors that create not only the price of beef at the packing plant, but also the cost of production on beef farms, but also the creation of demand in supermarkets will create greater or fewer opportunities for our industry.
- As the industry is asked by companies to work collaboratively to safeguard sustainability, Cherie Copithorne-Barnes described the progress in motion for the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. After the conclusion of the McDonald’s pilot project, the indicators of the final objectives have yet to be set in place. However, Copithorne-Barnes does encourage producers to photo document their riparian areas and cattle, ensure their antibiotic use is documented, and use the basic tools already available in programs like VBP Plus.
While producers work tirelessly across the country, taking a few days to find ways to ensure our cattle are healthy, our land is sustainable and productive, and our way of life is possible for years and even generations to come has become more important and, hopefully, more possible.