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Check out what events are going on in the industry and around Alberta at http://www.albertabeef.org/page/events.
Grass Routes News

In this issue

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  • two.
  • three.
  • four.
  • Government of Canada deems agriculture and agri-food essential services
  • Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy update
  • Provincial meat inspectors to strengthen food supply
  • Think you have a closed herd? Think again.

Government of Canada deems agriculture and agri-food essential services

Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair, has released guidance concerning essential services and functions in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is pleased to see Canada’s food supply chain listed as an essential service.

Over the past few weeks, CCA advocated strongly across Federal government departments for this designation to ensure food and agricultural services were categorized as critical infrastructure. This is an important step to helping maintain open borders for trade, plants operating at full capacity, and cattle and beef products to flow uninterrupted through the beef value chain domestically and internationally.

CCA would like to thank everybody involved in the process, including Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau, and opposition Agriculture Critics, John Barlow, Yves Perron and Alistair MacGregor.

CCA will continue to work collaboratively with all leaders across the country to protect the health of workers and ensure business continuity of Canada’s food supply chain. To see the full guidance, click here.

Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy update

Federal Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, has provided an update on the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. The program would offer a 75 per cent wage subsidy to businesses who have suffered at least a 30 per cent drop in gross revenue due to the impacts of COVID-19.

While the details of how these funds will be administered are still being worked out, Finance Canada has outlined the following details:

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees, representing a benefit of up to $847 per week.
  • The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.
  • Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy.
  •  An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees. All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered.
  • Eligible employers would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, except public sector entities.
  • Eligible employers would access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy by applying through a Canada Revenue Agency online portal. More application details are expected to follow.

Organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may continue to qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10 per cent of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association is evaluating the proposal and will be providing further feedback to Finance Canada and industry in the days ahead.

For more information, please view the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy technical backgrounder by clicking here.

MNP has also provided a breakdown of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. To view this update, click here.

Provincial meat inspectors to strengthen food supply

To ensure the continuous operation of Alberta’s food supply chain, the provincial government is partnering with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to increase food inspector capacity.

Training will begin soon, which will allow provincial meat inspectors to be deployed into high-priority federally licensed plants in Alberta as demand for more food inspectors increases.

"We must continue to provide high-quality food for Canadians, while ensuring we protect the health of our workers. By working together, our governments have ensured we have a COVID-19 contingency plan for inspection services."

Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

“It is critical for Alberta families, our food supply and to our economy that the meat industry operates at its maximum capacity. We are working with the CFIA to integrate our provincial inspectors into federally licenced plants to help keep Albertans fed.”

Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

As a result of COVID-19, the food processing industry is experiencing increased demand. These redeployments will ensure the continued capability to provide meat inspections in the province and keep food products on shelves. In addition, steps have been taken to increase provincial inspector capacity by bringing back retired inspectors.

Protecting the health and safety of inspectors and workers in meat processing facilities is a critical element in meeting the demands of both domestic and export markets.

This move is part of a comprehensive COVID-19 response to keep Albertans safe through this unprecedented global health emergency.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulates approximately 74 animal slaughter, meat processing and meat storage establishments in Alberta. These federally inspected plants are vital contributors to the food supply of Albertans and of Canadians.

Think you have a closed herd? Think again.

A surprising proportion of producers believe they run a closed herd. The 2017 Western Canadian Cow-Calf Survey requested reasons why certain management practices were not employed on individual operations. Out of the approximately 25% of respondents who did not vaccinate their cows and heifers against reproductive diseases such as IBR and BVD, over half of those reported that their reason for forgoing those vaccinations was because they had a closed herd. Similarly, over 20% of respondents did not vaccinate their calves against respiratory disease (BRD), and 30% of those indicated having a closed herd was their main reason for not vaccinating.

This high rate of mistaken belief in having a closed herd is not just a Canadian phenomenon. A 2019 UK survey of almost 1,000 producers indicated that over half of those who stated they ran a closed herd had purchased cattle within the past two years. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) 2007-08 survey, over 88% of operations with 50 head or more brought new cattle onto their operations in the past three years.

Often a closed herd is simply interpreted as just being closed genetically, where replacements and clean up bulls are all home raised, artificial insemination is the main breeding method if new genetics are desired, and non-home raised cattle never enter the operation. But like most things, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Continue Reading >>

In other news...

The Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) has developed new and improved application forms for confined feeding operation permits. The updates incorporate feedback received from applicants that will make the forms easier to use. The new forms are part of ongoing NRCB efforts to streamline processes and improve business practices.

The new form is available on the NRCB website at www.nrcb.ca/confined-feeding-operations/applications-decisions2

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