Health Canada’s proposed changes to the Canada Food Guide
Canada’s Food Guide is currently under review by Health Canada, with the goal of having a revised Guide by 2018. In the spirit of full transparency, consultation is open to concerned citizens (the public), as well as health professionals and food industry members. Industry groups like National Cattle Feeders’ Association, Canada Beef, and CCA are working on submissions and additional support.
Beef Industry’s concerns with the proposed changes:
- Recommendation to lower consumption of red and processed meats, with a preference for plant-based protein choices
- A ‘protein food category’ is being recommended, rather than the Meat & Alternates and Dairy food groups. This implies all protein sources are created equal and have comparable amounts of readily-digested protein, which is incorrect.
- There is a recommendation to replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes. For those concerned that red meat (beef) is a primary source of saturated fat, this information could be seen as a recommendation to reduce red meat consumption. *Link to Letters directly below here for more information.
- There is the recommendation around sustainable diets – encouraging the public to eat sustainably by choosing food produced by systems that have lower environmental impacts. Given the lack of information and misinformation circulating about beef’s impact on the environment, this may drive people to choose another protein source they perceive as more sustainable.
The Guide continues to recommend reducing consumption of saturated fats, despite “essentially overwhelming evidence now that saturated fat is not harmful in the diet and does not cause heart disease, but rather that the low fat dietary pattern has very likely caused harm”.
The NCFA has been effective in confronting and leading the charge on recent issues and opportunities impacting the cattle feeding industry.
Competitiveness of the Canadian Cattle Feeding sector: regulatory and policy issues, costs and opportunities
The National Cattle Feeders’ Association (NCFA) Strategic Plan is built upon three pillars: Growth and Sustainability; Competitiveness; and, Industry Leadership. The strategic objective of the Competitiveness pillar is to ensure regulators and policy makers understand the business realities and priorities of the cattle feeder business, within the context of the value chain.
NCFA developed an economic analysis of the most problematic and costly federal and provincial regulations and industry practices in order to focus on the challenges that have the greatest impact on the day-to-day competitiveness of Canadian feedlot operations.
In support of the initiative, the NCFA engaged the services of Noblepath Strategic Consulting Inc. to conduct a series of focus groups to identify and prioritize regulations and/or practices impeding the competitiveness of the feedlot sector, and analyze the economic impact of the most significant impediments. RIAS Inc. partnered with Noblepath on the economic analysis portion of the project.
Canadian cattle are raised with best practices
Canada has one of the safest food systems in the world. Canadian cattle feeders are already raising their cattle humanely and have been for many years. Members of the National Cattle Feeders’ Association (NCFA) are proud of their track record for producing some of the world’s most affordable, nutritious, and safest beef through initiatives focussing on animal care, animal health and production, the environment, people and communities.
While the Canadian industry is supportive and understands the value that private assurance/certification programs can bring to assist consumers to make informed decisions, the Canadian beef industry has strategically chosen to take an all-of-industry approach and develop robust verification processes equivalent or superior to any private programs. The animal care practices required to earn the Certified Humane designation are already widely adopted by Canadian producers, negating the inference that Canadian beef is in some way not humanely produced.
Animal care initiatives in the Canadian cattle industry:
- National Farm Animal Care Council’s Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle http://www.nfacc.ca/codes-of-practice/beef-cattle is Canada’s national guide on animal health and welfare standards and is used by cattle feeders as the minimal animal care standard. The code was updated in December 2014 by a wide group of stakeholders including the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), to reflect advancements in science and increased public interest in the raising of Canadian beef cattle. Canadian cattle feeders support the use of antibiotics, with veterinarian oversight, to humanely treat sick animals. The use of antibiotics is also included in the Humane Farm Animal Care’s Certified HumaneÒ program guidelines.
- NCFA has developed a fully auditable Feedlot Animal Care Assessment program that is certified by the American Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) and recognized by the National Farm Animal Care Council. This code of practice — a companion document to the Beef Code — is specific to the handling and care of beef cattle on Canadian feedlots and the result of a collaborative effort by feedlot operators, packers (welfare experts from those plants were involved in program development), retail customers, veterinarians, ethologists, animal scientists, and the SPCA. Cargill, JBS, and Tyson were integral to the development of the feedlot audit. For detailed information on the program click here.
- As for steroids, levels in beef are miniscule whether the animals receive a growth promoting implant or not. The difference in hormones in treated versus non-treated beef is about two nanograms per 6 oz steak — a nonogram is one billionth of a gram. A hamburger bun has thousands of times more steroid than the burger. Producers can choose to not use growth promotants, but the net effect it has on the steroid level in the final product is negligible and certainly does not constitute a human health concern. Hormones are used in production to increase feed efficiency. This technology decreases the need for more land, water, and feed.
- Producers give their animals antibiotics to help save their lives and ease their pain and suffering. Failing to use antibiotics to treat a sick animal isn’t humane; it’s inhumane. Producers strictly observe withdrawal times to ensure all antibiotic residues are long gone before the animal goes for processing.
- The Canadian Livestock Transport (CLT) Certification program offers livestock truckers, shippers, and receivers a standardized comprehensive training course and support services that are recognized throughout North America. The certification program is addressing the demand from North American processing facilities to prove competence and certification in livestock hauling — resulting in increased accountability and improved livestock handling practices.
- NCFA fully supports the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef’s (CRSB) efforts to advance sustainability in the Canadian beef industry, based on its pillars of Natural Resources, People and the Community, Animal Health and Welfare, Food, Efficiency, and Innovation. The CRSB provides a common place to access information about meaningful, transparent and scientifically sound information regarding sustainable production practices and sourcing. A sustainable sourcing framework is being developed to address consumer interest in where their food comes from and how it is raised. The CRSB welcomes stakeholders to engage in Canadian conversation around sustainable beef.
Recent Advocacy Activity
- Urged federal government representatives to step up the fight against the discriminatory U.S. mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (mCool) legislation
- Advocated changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program to give feedlot operators access to the skilled labour resources required to sustain operations
- Urged government decision-makers to bring down barriers blocking the sale of a packing plant in Balzac, Alberta resulting in the plant being sold and retooled to become the largest EU-approved plant in Canada
- Participated in multiple government consultations and engaged regularly with key decision-makers and political leaders to detail industry concerns
- Conducted feedlot tours to provide a hands-on education experience for government officials who shape the regulations that significantly impact our business
The result of NCFA’s efforts is increased awareness among government leaders, ensuring a strong voice at the table for Canada’s cattle feeders.
Creating the conditions for economic growth: tools for people, businesses and communities
Report of the Standing Committee on Finance
Hon. Wayne Easter, Chair
42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION
See pages 57 and 67 for noted input from the National Cattle Feeders’ Association
Labour recommendations: page 45
Agriculture recommendations: page 61 and 62
Infrastructure recommendations: page 74 and 75
NCFA on 2016 Finance Pre-budget Consultations
Canada’s agriculture and agri-food industries are responsible for 8% of Canada’s GDP. The beef industry alone generates $6.8 billion worth of income annually. This vibrant industry is a result of innovative and sophisticated production technologies that result in some of the most affordable, nutritious, and safest beef in the world.
The Canadian beef industry has tremendous potential to increase its contribution to the national economy and create new jobs — especially given new emerging export markets, recently signed free trade agreements, and growing global demand for high quality and trusted protein sources.
If Canada’s beef industry is to realize its potential and remain competitive globally, sufficient and reliable public infrastructure must be in place to support day-to-day operations and the rural communities in which the industry operates. In short, investments in infrastructure that support agriculture will serve as an economic driver, a job creator, and a rural community builder.
The challenge lies in the fact that much of the infrastructure investment required to support agriculture is located within small municipalities that cannot afford — even with matching funds — to make the required investments. This is particularly the case with the maintenance and rehabilitation of rural roads and bridges that provide the national benefit of moving Canada’s agriculture goods.
The Minister of Finance’s Question
What infrastructure investments can best help grow the economy, protect our environment, and meet your priorities locally?
NCFA recommends the 2016 federal budget provide leadership by directing funds for rural infrastructure investments required to sustain and grow Canada’s agriculture industry, particularly the maintenance and renewal of roadways and the rehabilitation and replacement of bridges.
Canadian Beef Cattle On-Farm Biosecurity Standard
Canada’s beef cattle producers recognize the need for sound on-farm biosecurity practices to manage disease risks in order to protect the health of their herd and operation and, by extension, the national herd and the industry.
The Canadian Beef Cattle On-Farm Biosecurity Standard provides practical and effective on‑farm biosecurity practices which can reduce the risk of disease, when properly applied and followed, and which are of a low cost to the producer to implement. Developed over two years, in consultation with beef cattle producers, industry and government, the Standard is designed specifically for the Canadian beef cattle industry and is applicable to farm-level operations of all types and sizes. Its focus is on practices and procedures that reduce the risk and impact of disease in cattle operations.
The Standard is built on four basic principles of on-farm risk reduction:
- managing and minimizing animal movement risks;
- managing the movement of people, vehicles, equipment and tools;
- managing animal health practices; and
- the biosecurity knowledge and training of personnel on the operation’s biosecurity plan.
Each principle has target outcomes that can be achieved in a variety of ways through the Biosecurity Implementation Manual.
The general practices and guidelines of the Standard are voluntary. Adherence to the principles set forth in this Standard can control and reduce the risk and impacts of endemic diseases and of an emerging disease or foreign animal disease (FAD) in the Canadian herd. Managing risk is something beef cattle producers do every day. The Standard is a tool that provides broad guidelines for disease risk management that are practical and science-based, and specific to the beef cattle industry.
Labour Task Force
Agriculture and Agri-Food Workforce Action Plan Summary
Agriculture Workers Needed: Temporary and Seasonal Labour — Recommendations of the Labour Task Force
Industry Call to Action on Labour: Workforce Action Plan Implementation Handout
EU Program Requirement Summary
- EU Export Program Requirements from CFIA – Summary April 2015
- EU GEP FREE BEEF (Annex R)
- EU GEP FREE BEEF (Users Manual)
Regulatory consultation on traceability
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is advancing proposed amendments to Part XV (Animal Identification) of the Health of Animals Regulations through a second round of stakeholder consultations. The proposed amendments consist mainly of requirements for identifying and reporting the movement of bison, bovine, caprine, cervid, ovine and pigs. The authority for the proposed amendments is provided under the Health of Animals Act.
This second round of consultation is launched today with an anticipated end date of 26 June 2015. Comments on the proposed requirements together with responses to questions raised during the consultation are to be submitted to the following email address: email@example.com.
Please click on links below to view the following consultation documents:
1- Executive Summary of Consultation documents
2- Overview on a federal livestock identification and traceability regulatory proposal. Second round of consultation: Consultation paper
3- Livestock identification and traceability regulatory proposal. Reference document for second round of consultations
4- Evaluation of Three Livestock Movement Reporting Options to Support Tracing Investigations Following a Sanitary Issue in Canada.
An overview of the consultation documents will be presented through a webinar session on 19 May 2015. Proposed species-specific or site-specific requirements will be presented through additional webinar sessions and meetings. Information on these venues will be provided later this week.
- Executive Summary of Consultation Documents 2015-05
- Consultation document for 2nd round 2015-05
- Reference document for 2nd consultation 2015-05
- Evaluation of movement reporting option – 2015-05