It’s been an eventful start for the new president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), as Bob Lowe, a rancher from southern Alberta, was elected to lead the national cattle producer group earlier this month.
Lowe, who takes over from David Haywood-Farmer, joined us on RealAg Radio on Rural Radio 147 last week to discuss the issues facing the industry right now, as the market has seen extreme volatility due to COVID-19.
From a policy standpoint, the CCA has “been there all the time” with the federal government to ensure the beef industry’s needs are heard, he notes.
“It’s critical that ag and the entire food value chain is deemed an essential service and we keep these packing plants open as well,” says Lowe, in the interview below.
Since speaking with Lowe on Thursday (March 26), the Harmony Beef plant in Alberta and the Olymel pork plant in Quebec have both halted processing due to employees testing positive for COVID-19.
Last week, the CCA and the provincial associations sent the federal and provincial governments letters requesting that this be categorized as an essential service.
“We need packing plants open and borders to stay open for trade,” states Lowe. “I believe this is a food security issue, we cannot have food security without that U.S. border staying open to trade… For many consumers in Canada, they have been seeing empty grocery store shelves for the first time in their lives.”
Lowe believes there are several things that need to happen regarding business risk management for cattle producers:
- If COVID-19 was deemed a natural disaster, the Agri-recovery program would be able to get money into producers’ pockets quicker;
- Eliminate the cap on AgriStability and invoke the late participation clause;
- Modify the cattle price insurance program to be cost-shared with government, and national in scope.
According to Lowe, the CCA is watching what the U.S. does to get money into the hands of its producers very closely. Apart of the two trillion dollar stimulus package, $9.5 billion was set aside for the U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide stop-gap support to livestock and special crop producers. Details are yet to be released on how that will be calculated and divvied up.
Listen to our discussion with Bob Lowe, president of the CCA, below.