Archive for the ‘COOL’ Category

ILC 2009: Dennis Laycraft VP at CCA – The Future Realities of MCOOL

July 30, 2009

At the International Livestock Congress, I spoke to Dennis Laycraft, Executive Vice President with the Canadian Cattlemans Association about the future realities of MCOOL. Many livestock producers on both sides of the border are very curious at to what will be the impact of this legislation. I have heard several Americans call MCOOL not food safety legislation but a marketing tool instead. This would be in drastic contrast to what RCALF has been arguing about. See Dennis chat about the history of MCOOL

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ILC 2009: Dennis Laycraft – VP at CCA – The History of MCOOL

July 23, 2009

MCOOL has become a reality for the US, Canadian and beef industry.  Sometimes it is beneficial to better understand an issue or situation by stepping back and examining how we got here.  I asked Dennis Laycraft of the Canadian Cattleman’s Association at the International Livestock Congress to provide me with a history of the MCOOL legislation and what could of been done differently.  

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Getting the Youth in the Beef Industry Politically Involved is Important

May 4, 2009

While the demographics of farmers and ranchers generally follow an aging trend, there are still many young people getting, and staying, involved in the livestock industry. A prime example is a new group I have the privilege of helping to develop between the US and Canada.

The Canada/US Young Farmers and Ranchers Livestock Forum is being developed by a group of people with a vested interest in the policy and trade aspect of the livestock business.
Working with Canadian Consulate of Agriculture (Denver), producer groups, breed associations and more, we are trying to get young (under 35-ish) farmers and ranchers from both sides of the border together for a roundtable discussion on policy issues that currently affect livestock trade in both countries. The intent is to demonstrate the economic importance of developing, fostering and maintaining strong trading partnerships, specifically the relationship between Canada and the U.S. The plan is to continue this roundtable on an annual basis rotating between locations in Canada and the U.S. For this year, the Forum will consist of topics such as: addressing challenges of country of origin labeling; strengthening our food safety systems / animal health and implications to disease outbreak; environmental regulations / cap and trade climate initiatives; and joint efforts to gain access to the European Union.

As this is the first year, the participant numbers are expected to be small, with approximately 20 participants total, depending on sponsorship. Taking place July 8 – 11 at the Calgary Stampede, in conjunction with the International Livestock Congress (ILC), we expect this event to be a huge success, even in its inception year. Participants will attend the ILC program on July 9th and the Forum itself will be held on the 10th. July 11th will be a day for agricultural tours of the Calgary area. As we move forward in planning this initiative, we are always looking for interest and support. If you have questions, comments or would like to get involved in this exciting new industry initiative, please feel free to contact me.

Gerry Ritz Visits Lethbridge for a Producer Roundtable

March 7, 2009
Yesterday, Rick Cassson, MP Lethbridge hosted Federal Agricultural Minister, Gerry Ritz in Lethbridge.  On top of serving at the Farm Credit Canada Breakfast at Ag Expo and meeting with a farmer round table, Ritz also announced 15.5 million in funding for the Canadian Triticale Biorefiniery Initiative. 
I participated in the farmer round table where all twenty of the producer participants had a couple minutes to voice their opinion on any given subject.  This is the first time I have met the Honorable Mr. Ritz but I have to say that he appears to be a very fast on his feet, intelligent and has a very firm grasp of the subjects at hand.  Based on his opinion of the Canadian Wheat Board alone I think that we are in good hands.  I cannot say that I agree with him on all subjects but you should never expect that. 
The issues brought up at the round table were country of origin labeling, the creation of the certified seed tax incentive, farmers wanting a choice on how and where to market their grain, the inability of the Canadian Wheat Board to manage its finances, the inadequate rail system in Canada, consolidation of the beef industry, how to create a long term sustainable sugar beet industry, the need for public plant breeding, the need for own use allowances on certain animal drugs and crop protection products, pollination research needs, wildlife control as it pertains to sheep production, transgenic wheat and many questions about the need for government stability programs to be bankable going forward.  
Afterwards I reflected to a good friend that it was great to meet Gerry Ritz and get some of his candid feelings on the issues as he really encouraged to be challenged and given ideas on how things can be improved.  Thank you Mr. Ritz for taking the time to come to Lethbridge and listen to our Southern Alberta concerns.  

Vilsack and Obama Continue Protectionist Plan

February 19, 2009

Today, President Obama visits Canada and sits down with Prime Minister Harper. Currently, the Democrats are using the poor economy as an excuse to push their protectionist agenda forward. Canada and Mexico need to be very aware of what is transpiring and how it will affect agriculture in the future. Please do not think that the steel and iron “Buy American” clause incident two weeks ago will be an isolated incident. Did you see 60 minutes last week? Check out this link to the video and listen to the protectionist rhetoric by the CEO of Nucor.

We need our political leaders to in the US and Canada to work together during this hard economic time. Based on the fact that Canada and the US share the longest open border in the world, there is large amounts of trade between the two countries. As stated on the CBC National last night, there is a lot of trade that is actual business to business collaboration which benefits both economies. After the Vilsack announcement yesterday, the protectionist objectives of the new US administration is very clear and becoming more of a main stream concern. It drives me crazy to watch the TV and see people in Canada cheering Obama as he drives the streets of Ottawa like it is a rock concert. President Obama in his short term in office is appearing to be a real threat to our ability to trade with our largest trading partner, the United States. Canadian agriculture requires trade with the United States to thrive and we desperately need the US to reconsider its protectionist agenda so that both countries can prosper in the long term.

Other links:
See what Harry Siemens said about Vilsacks comments

Tiffin Conference – Larry Hicks – Managing Risk in the Beef Business

January 23, 2009

Larry Hicks of Cattlehedging.com was one of the keynote speakers at the Tiffin Conference yesterday in Lethbridge. Larry spoke about the necessity of risk management in the beef business. Larry very clearly outlined what hedging is and that there is much more involved than calling your broker to buy or sell futures contracts. He emphasized that you must have a hedging plan in order to really obtain success.

I had a chance to sit down with Larry before his Tiffin speech to discuss some of the pressing issues in the beef business and get a better idea of how he views the beef business going forward.

Vilsack Out as Ag-Secretary?

January 6, 2009

Yesterday, New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson withdrew his name from the appointment of Commerce Secretary due to a federal probe investigating campaign financing and an ethical business practices.  According to very reliable sources, the NY Times is reporting tonight that Tom Vilsack may get the Commerce Secretary job instead.  Before your head begins to spin let me explain.  Tom Vilsack was just appointed to the Ag Secretary post two weeks ago of which received relatively good reviews from US stakeholders.   With the Vilsack Ag Secretary nomination meeting set for Jan 14th, this will prove to be a very interesting week.      

It was suggested earlier today by Project Logic Ga, a website focusing on southern moderate African American issues, that Vilsack should move to Commerce and Sanford Bishop become the new Ag Secretary.  This is in response to criticism Obama is receiving regarding not appointing any southerners or African Americans to his caucus.  Of course Bishop covers both of these characteristics.  I also found on Twitter tonight that there are reports of Christine Gregoire filling the Commerce position.  
I am sure many names are going to surface in the coming days for the Commerce position and the Vilsack switch is not for sure.  But for those of us that are affected by issues like COOL and other US trade policies, this lack of stability is proving to be unsettling.   It is hard enough to figure out if Vilsack is friend or foe to the other NAFTA countries but now we may have to get ready for a different person filling the Ag Secretary position again.  I am not quite sure how to feel about all this hoopla but I do know that I support whoever states that they will repeal COOL first.  I guess a person can only dream.
Let the speculation begin.  

Mexico Cuts Off Beef Trade

December 30, 2008
Last week, Mexico cut off the imports of US pork and beef from 30 US plants owned by Tyson, Smithfield Foods, JBS and Cargill. This is in addition to Mexico joining Canada on December 19th to file a complaint with the WTO regarding COOL. Reportedly, the ban had to do with technical and sanitary issues at the US plants.  As of today Mexico has resumed imports from 21 of the 30 plants and reports indicate that the other nine plants will be back onstream shortly.

According to a Reuters report, Mexico denied that the import ban had anything to do with COOL or its filing with the WTO. It does seem that the timing is more than just a coincidence. The ban was completely unexpected, it was during the week of Christmas and Mexico is the largest importer of US beef, second in pork and third in chicken.  I find it hard to believe that this was not a shot across the bow to try and show the US that Mexico is willing to play the US game of hardball to get what it wants.  Canada’s next move could be interesting as Canada tends to play safer and follow more diplomatic tactics.  If you didn’t think that 2009 would be interesting, I think you may have to reconsider.