CCA’s Industry Red Meat Mission a Success

The CCA, Canadian Beef Breeds Council, the Canadian Pork Council (CPC) and the Canadian Meat Council (CMC), representing Canada’s beef cattle, hog and meat processing sectors, respectively, met with their EU counterparts to discuss commercially viable two-way trade of meat products and genetics between Canada and the EU as envisioned by the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Efforts focused on building rapport to better understand concerns and operating environments in Europe and enlisting cooperative approaches toward resolving current issues and heading off future threats. Such work is a major factor in paving the way for future technical and business exchanges in support of commercially viable trade of meat products. To this end CCA had meetings with red meat sector counterparts in the UK with the Food Standards Agency, Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board, National Farmers Union, and the International Meat Traders Association.

In Brussels, the trade mission participants met with representatives from the EU Meat Industry as well as officials working in key European Commission departments. In Dublin, CCA met with the Irish Department of Agriculture, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the Irish Farmers Association, and Bord Bia (the Irish Food Promotion Board). Participants also had the opportunity, over the weekend, to venture into the Irish countryside to see an Irish beef farm as well as tour the National Bull Test Centre operated by the Irish Cattle Breeders’ Federation.

“Although CETA will remove a prohibitively high European tariff for nearly 65,000 tonnes of Canadian beef per year, they were able to dispel EU concerns over potential market disruption caused by a sudden dramatic influx of Canadian beef in the EU”

The CCA is grateful for the support for this mission provided by the Canadian High Commission in London, the Canadian Mission in Brussels and the Canadian Embassy in Dublin. These Canadian representatives abroad were instrumental in securing meetings with key government officials.

Discussions in nearly every meeting quickly identified our common work around climate change, environmental stewardship, animal care and public trust issues. The group was able to provide the Canadian perspective and study results indicating the important role of beef production in mitigating climate change and preserving the environment and natural grasslands. It is vital that they continue to develop common methodologies and policies to avoid future issues arising from divergent approaches.

Although CETA will remove a prohibitively high European tariff for nearly 65,000 tonnes of Canadian beef per year, they were able to dispel EU concerns over potential market disruption caused by a sudden dramatic influx of Canadian beef in the EU. Firstly, the quota for Canada is less than one percent of European beef consumption. Second, the quota is phased-in to increase over five years to its full quantity. Third, Canadian producers need to see the market signal to encourage them to produce cattle for Europe.

CCA estimates that it will take more than 5,000 Canadian beef farms operating under a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) supervised audit and verification program to produce enough beef cuts from EU-eligible carcasses. At present, there are fewer than 40 operations in the EU program. While they anticipate that more producers will eventually see the value in operating under the EU program and enroll, at present the number of program participants does not indicate that Canadian beef causing a sudden disruption in the EU market is anything to be concerned about.

The most significant issue to be resolved is the fact that the Canadian industry remains in the process of preparing applications to seek EU approval of the procedures used in Canadian beef production to ensure maximum food safety for consumers. On their 2016 mission, the group had already agreed with EU industry counterparts that while antimicrobial interventions do not constitute a substitute for good hygiene practices, when used in conjunction with good hygiene practices, they do contribute positively to ensuring increased food safety. This year’s mission enabled CCA to more comprehensively address misperceptions about Canadian procedures and for both sides to acknowledge that while systems may be different, neither system is better or worse nor stronger or weaker than the other. The two systems are simply different, but both produce safe beef.

The group informed its EU counterparts that the CCA, CPC and CMC will continue to work towards achieving approval by the European Commission of commonly used interventions approved in Canada, including lactic acid, citric acid, and peroxyacetic acid (PAA)-based solutions diluted in water and combinations thereof. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has already approved lactic acid and recycled hot water for use in beef production and the EU Commission has partially approved the EFSA recommendations.

Resolution of these issues will send a market signal to Canadian producers interested in enrolling in the CFIA program for the EU. In the meantime, the CCA fully expects that any EU beef or veal imported into Canada will be verified to be in full compliance with Canadian food safety requirements.

Another hot topic of conversation was the implications of Brexit and possible paths forward. About the only thing clear at the moment is that Brexit will occur regardless of the outcome of the UK general election in June. All the groups are busily preparing very comprehensive analysis of the all the meat industry and farming implications of Brexit. Unfortunately, at present, there are simply many more questions than there are answers. For example, both the Irish beef exporters and the British meat importers are very uncertain what will become of the 270,000 tonnes of beef Ireland exports to the UK annually. Clearly, it is important that the CCA remain engaged as policy emerges to respond to the many issues.

Source: Meatbusiness

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