SO HERE ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS:
Canada is continuing plans for its enhanced livestock traceability program.
The U. S. has recently announced it is scrapping its plans for a national animal-tracking plan.
McDonald’s Restaurants Canada comes out in favour of full livestock traceability.
Caviar from short-nosed Canadian sturgeon will be one of the featured dishes served to media attending the Olympics.
So where do I start? I still haven’t heard much support for the need for an enhanced national livestock traceability program in Canada, which would be over and above the current birth-to-slaughter tracking system managed by Canadian Cattle Identification Agency, now.
I don’t think the plans for the enhanced livestock traceability will go away. That system is coming. To make it really palatable for Canadian beef producers, however, the plan either has to be free or at least of minimal cost and inconvenience. And it would be really helpful if someone could show or prove if we don’t do this here, we are going to miss out on $40 billion worth of beef sales over there.
In talking with some very influential Canadian beef industry representatives over a quick lunch at the airport, as a private jet was being refuelled, the decision of the U. S. to scrap its national livestock tracking system could be viewed in one of two ways.
Some critics might say, “if the U. S. isn’t doing it, why should we?” or on the other hand, some might say, “Good, if the U. S. doesn’t have a beef traceability system, that could open more markets for Canadian beef that is produced under a tracking system.” The U. S. exported about 886,000 metric tonnes of beef in 2009.
And still on traceability, I think it is important when a restaurant chain like McDonalds says it wants to serve foods that are traceable. Those comments were made by Jeff Kroll, senior VP for McDonald’s in Canada at the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association conference. However, what wasn’t clear to me in reading reports is whether the current CCIA tagging system is sufficient or whether McDonalds is saying it has to be a more enhanced traceability system. McDonald’s buys about 64 million pounds of Canadian beef annually.
And regarding the menu for the media covering the Olympics at the Vancouver Olympics (the event will likely be over by the time you read this), in all fairness, Federal Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz is helping out at the grill in preparing a steak and eggs breakfast, and we can only assume he cooked Canadian beef steaks.
But, I did note two things that were highlighted on the menu — wild blueberry, mint and cream-cheese stuffed French toast with maple syrup and brown butter, cider-braised sausage and haskap berry compote — that was one. And, the second item was $90 per ounce caviar harvested from farm-raised short-nosed Canadian sturgeon.
Geez, whatever happened to meat and potatoes? I have seen the media eat before. It is all well and good to dress everything up with expensive foods and fancy descriptions, but the fact is one week after the Olympics are over the vast majority of media won’t remember if they had cider-braised sausage or sardines on a cracker.
What the media is concerned about are the following points: Is it free? Does it come with booze? Is there lots of it? If no one is going to finish that can I take the leftovers back to my room? And are there any other free gifts that come with the meal?
I think to really showcase Canadian food the federal government and the Olympic organizing committee should have promoted Canadian burgers or beef on a bun, and pulled-pork sandwiches at every food venue in Vancouver and area during the Olympics. And, if they wanted to dress it up, the organizers could have worked with a dozen or so producers from across the country, so every wrapper around the burger or sandwich could have had an attractive label, or sticker on it saying this beef or pork was produced on the farm or ranch of whoever, and carry a picture of that producer on each label. That would have told the world this is real Canadian food and behind it is a real Canadian producer.
I would say more, but I left my haskap berry compote simmering on the stove and I have to go stir it before it burns.
Lee Hart Editor
While a series of Cost of Production workshops organized by the Western Beef Development Centre started in late February, there are also a few dates coming up in March, beef producers can hopefully attend.