CALGARY, Alta.–Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) Executive Vice President Dennis Laycraft appeared before the Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Consultations in Ottawa on February 16, 2016. His remarks, delivered on behalf of the people who operate Canada’s 68,500 beef farms and operations, reviewed for the Committee the key areas where the Government can help the Canadian beef sector to achieve long term competitiveness and secure future prosperity.
Canada’s beef sector encourages finance policies and a fiscal environment that supports long term growth, continuous improvement though innovation and collaboration, and that expands industry’s ability and capability to competitively market its products to the world.
Laycraft discussed the importance of trade to the future prosperity of the Canadian beef industry. The ability to compete requires investment both in opening export markets and domestically to ensure a competitive and innovative industry.
Laycraft requested that resources be dedicated to bringing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) into effect in a manner that results in commercially meaningful beef exports.
It is paramount that the TPP be approved and implemented as quickly as possible, he said, so that Canada can re-claim Japanese customers lost to Australian beef which already benefits from a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in that market.
With CETA, Laycraft urged continued progress in addressing technical barriers to Canadian beef in the European Union and then have the agreement come into effect.
To further support trade, CCA asked that the Agriculture Market Access Secretariat (AMAS) be fully funded to carry out its important work to pave the way for Canadian agri-food exports. CCA was the original advocate for creation of the AMAS to deal with technical market access issues.
One of the key ways the government can facilitate a competitive Canadian agriculture sector is to help it innovate by investing in research. Industry/government funded research clusters have been one of the great success stories in Canada, Laycraft said, and he expressed strong support for continuing this “exceptional approach to collaborative research.”
The Canadian beef industry is leading the world on sustainability work. On environmental sustainability, Laycraft encouraged government to continue to support ranchers’ conservation actions, ensuring funds are available for continuation and expansion of agri-environmental programs and the development of market-based instruments.
Investment in infrastructure is needed. A major water management project in Manitoba is long overdue to mitigate the impact of flooding of agriculture lands caused by diversion. Expanded port and border facilities to eliminate the bottlenecks that take place is also needed.
Labour shortages are preventing more value-added processing. Laycraft cited the need for viable immigration programs as an integrated component of a national agricultural labour strategy.
On risk management, Laycraft noted the CCA has long recommended that the federal government ensure there be sufficiently funded national business risk management programs, but also support some flexibility in government contributing to regional/provincial livestock insurance programs assuming the overall level of support is even across the country and the programs are market neutral.
The CCA believes that the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program is a forward-looking, market-based, insurance-style program that allows producers to manage price risk. WLPIP should be made permanent.
Laycraft noted the Canadian beef industry is one of the positive stories in the national economy and has the potential to grow with the right environment in place.