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More tracking, and are we ready for CDN COOL?

Two questions for producers to ponder. How important is the
enhanced traceability of cattle through the production system, to producers? It
could be coming along in 2011. And secondly, is it time for COOL (Country of
Origin Labeling) in Canada?

If you have any thoughts on these two topics, or any other,
I would be pleased to hear from you. Email me at: [email protected] , reply to this
blog, or drop me at line (like actually sit down and write something on paper)

and mail it to Cattleman’s Corner, Box 71150 Silver Springs PO, Calgary, AB,
T3B 5K2.

The reason for these two questions today – Delegates to the
Alberta Beef Producers passed a resolution at their recent annual meeting
opposing a federal/provincial plan to bring in mandatory tracking of cattle
starting in 2011. Yes, there is tracking in the production system now, but that
is primarily called “bookend” tracking. Cattle are tagged and recorded at the
ranch, at the beginning of their life, and those tags stay with them through
slaughter at the other end of their life, and if there is any problem with meat
quality or animal health, it is possible to track the animal back to it’s ranch
of origin.

This enhanced tracking plan, which the federal and most
provincial government ag ministers, figure will be a big help to marketing
Canadian beef to the world, would require records on the movement of cattle
through their life to be maintained. Tags would have to be read and recorded as

cattle left the farm and went to a community pasture, as they are ushered
through the auction mart, if you take cattle to a fair or exhibition, and of
course at feedlots. More processing to read tags, and recording of numbers.

The Alberta resolution was presented and passed at the
annual general meeting. That doesn’t mean that is the official position of the
organization. It is a resolution the board has to consider.

Rancher Ed Curry, who presented the resolution, says he is
worried about the cost of this enhanced tracking. Who is going to pay for it?
And, secondly, no one has demonstrated to him the value of enhanced
tracking.  He says a cost/benefit
analysis needs to be done. There is a bit more on this in the January 11 issue
of Grainews/Cattleman’s Corner.

So have you heard enough about this enhancing tracking
proposal from your provincial department of agriculture or your producer
association in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta or B.C. to convince you it is a

good thing?

And the other questions is, is it time we had COOL in
Canada. The U.S. has been busy the past year or two developing a system which
segregates ‘foreign’ beef at the retail level so their consumers can clearly
see what beef is produced in the U.S. and what beef is shipped in from Canada
or some other country.

Maybe it is time that Canadian retailers be required to do
the same. Maybe, with a fair bit of U.S. beef coming into Canada, consumers
should be able to clearly identify at the meat counter which cuts are high
quality Canadian bred and fed beef, and which cuts come from some other country.

What do you think? 
Are we ready for COOL?

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About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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