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PUBLISHED BY MANITOBA BEEF PRODUCERS

SEPTEMBER 2020

TOO MUCH CHARACTER As a herd pushed out of a Deerwood, MB farm yard to greener pastures, this new calf had never been through the gate before and tested everyone’s patience by refusing to join the group. A half hour later he reluctantly gave in, admitting defeat and winning sustenance! Photo credit: Jeannette Greaves

COVID-19 creates huge uncertainty for cattle producers A cloud of uncertainty hangs over Manitoba’s cattle sector as producers wonder when, or even if, the COVID-19 pandemic will let their lives return to normal. The industry is still struggling with a large backlog of slaughter cattle after the Cargill beef plant in High River, Alberta shut down briefly in the spring when workers tested positive for the COVID virus and some died. The virus also slowed operations at two other Alberta plants. Industry officials say it will take months to clear the backlog of 120,000 Canadian animals even with plants operating at or near full capacity. That’s assuming the virus doesn’t return in a second wave this fall and force plants to shut down again. All of which leaves producers on tenterhooks waiting to see if the other shoe will drop. “Extremely anxious” is the way Rick Wright, Manitoba Livestock Marketing Association administrator, described the mood among beef producers. “There’s a lot of volatility out there. There’s a lot of unknowns,” Wright said. “With the volatility in the market, the unknown about what’s going to happen this fall, flooding in some areas, some areas getting rain that haven’t had it for two years -- the tension among cattle producers is extremely

high. There’s a lot of stress in the country.” As of late July, cattle prices appeared to have stabilized -- more or less -- after taking a beating earlier this year. The big worry now is what prices will do in autumn when the annual fall run starts. “I think the most uncertain thing is pricing,” said Greg Schmidt, Alberta Cattle Feeders Association chair. “We seem to have stabilized over the last few weeks, albeit at a considerably lower level than normal. The uncertainty is, how would a second wave going into the fall affect our packing industry? “There’s a whole level of uncertainty there and I think that’s really affecting plans going forward on purchasing feeder cattle. That’s probably the biggest thing we’re facing right now.” Schmidt said he feels Alberta plants are well equipped to handle a possible second wave of COVID-19, having made significant changes to improve worker safety. For producers, the situation in late July was about as good as possible under the circumstances. But things were still behind normal, Schmidt said. “I would classify it as pretty much business as usual but still not at levels that we would have expected to see this time of year pre-COVID,” he said. For Dianne Riding, however, it is anything but business as usual.

Riding, Manitoba Beef Producers’ president, spends much of her day on the phone speaking with anxious producers who are low on both feed and patience. “I’m in the same shape as most of the folks who are phoning me and are short of feed and short of grass. The uncertainty is extremely tough on them,” says Riding, who raises cattle near Lake Francis in the Interlake. Riding herself is going into her third year of buying feed for her cows after missing much of the rain that saturated pastures in parts of Manitoba this spring. That, along with uncertainty about future cash prices, has Riding and other producers wondering: should I sell now or sit tight and wait? “The greatest uncertainty will be what our calves are worth this fall,” she says. “I’m telling producers who phone, I’m in the same boat as you and we need to make decisions early on, not when it’s way too late. “Animal welfare has to come first. That’s why we have to make our decisions on whether we can find enough feed, do we need to sell down, or do we need to sell out?” A lot depends on whether packers can work through enough the backlog of slaughter cattle to make room in feedlots for the slug of animals going to market this fall, says Riding. Page 2 

President's Column

Great Tastes of Manitoba Season 31

Forage insurance review released

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POSTMASTER: PLEASE RETURN UNDELIVERABLE COPIES TO: MBP, UNIT 220, 530 CENTURY STREET, WINNIPEG, MB R3H 0Y4 CANADIAN PUBLICATIONS MAIL PRODUCT SALES AGREEMENT NUMBER 40005187 POSTAGE PAID IN WINNIPEG.

BY RON FRIESEN


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CATTLE COUNTRY September 2020

Pandemic planning an exercise in patience CARSON CALLUM

General Manager’s Column I hope your summer has been going well, and that timely rains have led to more feed available for your herd this fall than the previous two production years. I know it hasn’t been a perfect summer for growing conditions for all our producers, but in some areas there does seem to be an improvement. Speaking with our directors and many members, they would echo the same comments. However, I still know August has turned dry again for many producers, so I am hoping lots were able to get some decent amount of feed off, even with dealing with other issues such as grasshoppers. Any improvements in production conditions are welcomed, as the COVID-19 pandemic we have all been dealing with has sure added to the challenges in our industry. A major impact that the pandemic has had on many sectors is related to planning and executing events. With rules and regulations that seem to change daily or weekly, it’s very challenging to make final plans for a few weeks out, let alone a few months. Crowd sizes, mask requirements, social distancing, strong sanitization – these are all things that groups like MBP now need to consider when planning an event that may have not have been top of mind before. With all these added uncertainties and public health restrictions, you can imagine that planning for our own MBP district meetings has been challenging, especially as it relates to allowable gathering sizes. The 2020 district meetings aren’t going to look the same as they have in years past due to the restrictions which exist right now, and which could well change by the time the meetings start, especially if case numbers spike. By the time you are reading this, we will

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be closer to finalizing our adjusted plan that tries to take a balance between protecting our board, staff, and meeting attendees, but also allows for completing the business we normally conduct as an organization. It’s hard to say if our plans will be thrown out the window with the very fluid situation that is this pandemic is, but we hope we can make an adjusted plan work. Watch your mail in late September or early October for our annual district meeting mailer which will have more details about the meetings and how they will be conducted. In the same vein, it’s way too soon and difficult to predict how the pandemic situation will impact our Annual General Meeting being planned for Brandon in early February, but we will keep all apprised of potentially adjusted plans. Even with the challenges associated in planning events during this pandemic, I am impressed and encouraged by the adaptations many groups have made thus far. From holding virtual AGMs to socially--distanced outside events, it has been really impressive to see. For example, Manitoba Youth Beef Round Up, which is a great event for young cattle producers, had to take their usual August event virtual this year. This was awesome to see, and I am positive many attendees got a great deal of information out of it. Another example is the Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC). This usually in-person event had also gone virtual, with very engaging sessions throughout the three-day period. There were so many great speakers and even a “Cooking Dinner Together” session which made it a really great adjusted event that still got phenomenal thought-provoking information out to the industry in a safe setting. These are just a couple examples of the creativity in the agriculture sector, and there are many more. A particular CBIC event I was delighted to see wasn’t cancelled was the presentation of The Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA). The TESA awards ceremony was moved online. Since 1996, TESA has recognized producers who go above and beyond standard industry conservation practices and set positive examples for other cattle producers and the general public. MBP wants to congratulate Thomas and Felicity Hagan of Hagan Valley Ranch of the Virden area for being considered for this national award. They were the provincial TESA recipient at our AGM this

Hagan Family

past February, and their efforts to ensure an environmentally sustainable operation are very impressive. In relation to planning, we are well underway on the details for the Livestock Predation Prevention Pilot Project. I am very pleased to welcome Ray Bittner to the team to lead this project forward. Ray’s extensive knowledge of the agriculture sector and experience with livestock predation challenges will be of great benefit to the project as it moves forward. Before I close, I want to thank our board for being so diligent, hardworking, and flexible over the course of this world shifting event. Conference call after conference call can get tiring, but our board has stayed engaged in every discussion we have to ensure we are working effectively on behalf of our members. Though we have seen delays in certain files, such as the anticipated provincial government consultations on agricultural Crown lands and the first right of renewal, our board has still stayed motivated in our various lobby efforts. Happy harvest all, and here’s hoping for a smooth fall calf run. Carson

Uncertain fall awaits pan, now that an increased kill by packers makes more beef available for export. But he agreed uncertainty is still producers’ worst enemy, particularly because so little is known about COVID-19 and how it behaves. “We’ve never dealt with a pandemic in this generation before and with COVID-19 there’s still many things about it we don’t know,” Laycraft said. That’s no comfort to cattle producers who have spent the better part of the last 20 years dealing with one crisis after another. First came BSE, then country-of-origin labeling, E. coli, depressed market prices, droughts and flooding. And now this. It’s getting to the point where producers have to wonder how much more they can take, said Riding. “We are a resilient bunch but I’m getting a bit fearful that some folks are going to get to the age where we can’t keep doing this.”

 Page 1 “If we can’t get the backlog cleaned up, I feel it will affect all our cow-calf producers with the fact that either they’re going to discount those calves greatly or there might not be space for them in the feedlots,” she says. “It might come to the fact that they might not run sales to move cattle. That’s a very scary thought.” Dennis Laycraft, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association executive vice-president, said so far he hasn’t seen signs of panic selling by producers, especially since the federal government instituted a set-aside initiative through Agri-Recovery. Ottawa has pledged up to $125 million for livestock producers to help offset extra feeding costs for animals backed up on farms because of the pandemic. The cattle sector qualifies for $50 million of that. Exports of feeder cattle to the U.S. were down sharply as of June 1 because of backlogs there, too. But Laycraft said overseas sales of beef are doing well, especially to Ja-

DISTRICT 1

DISTRICT 5

DISTRICT 9

DISTRICT 13

R.M. of Albert, Cameron, Whitewater, Edward, Brenda, Winchester, Morton

R.M. of Elton, North Cypress, North Norfolk, Cornwallis, Oakland, South Cypress, Victoria, South Norfolk

R.M. of Woodlands, Rockwood, St. Andrews, Rosser, St. Francis Xavier, Springfield, Tache, Whitemouth, Lac du Bonnet, Brokenhead, St. Clements, LGD of Alexander, Pinawa

R.M. of Shell River, Shellmouth,Hillsburg, Boulton, Grandview, Gilbert Plains, Ethelbert, Mossey River, Dauphin, LGD Park

GORD ADAMS

DISTRICT 2

NANCY HOWATT - SECRETARY

R.M. of Riverside, Strathcona, Argyle, Lorne, Turtle Mountain, Roblin, Louise, Pembina

STEVEN MANNS

DISTRICT 6

MELISSA ATCHINSON

R.M. of Wallace, Woodworth, Daly, Pipestone, Sifton, Whitehead, Glenwood

DIANNE RIDING - PRESIDENT

DISTRICT 10

MIKE DUGUID - 2ND VICE-PRESIDENT

DISTRICT 3

DISTRICT 7

R.M. of Bifrost, Gimli, Fisher, Armstrong

R.M. of Portage la Prairie, Cartier, Grey, MacDonald, Dufferin, Thompson, Roland, Morris, Stanley, Rhineland, Montcalm

R.M. of Russell, Silver Creek, Rossburn, Ellice, Birtle, Shoal Lake, Strathclair, Archie, Miniota, Hamiota, Blanshard

DISTRICT 11

DISTRICT 4

MATTHEW ATKINSON

PETER PENNER - TREASURER

KEVIN DUDDRIDGE

R.M. of Richot, Ste. Anne, Hanover, De Salaberry, La Broquerie, Franklin, Stuartburn, Piney, LGD Reynolds

TYLER FULTON 1ST VICE-PRESIDENT

DISTRICT 8

R.M. of Harrison, Clanwilliam, Rosedale, Glenella, Saskatchewan, Odanah, Minto, Langford, Lansdowne, Westbourne, LGD Park

ROBERT METNER

R.M. of Siglunes, Grahamdale, Eriksdale, Coldwell, St. Laurent

DISTRICT 12

MARK GOOD

R.M. of Lawrence, Ochre River, Ste. Rose, McCreary, Alonsa

MARY PAZIUK

MANITOBA BEEF PRODUCERS Unit 220, 530 Century Street Winnipeg, MB R3H 0Y4

Ph: 1-800-772-0458 PH - (204) 772-4542 FX - (204) 774-3264 info@mbbeef.ca www.mbbeef.ca

GENERAL MANAGER Carson Callum

POLICY ANALYST Maureen Cousins

www.mbbeef.ca

DISTRICT 14 JIM BUCHANAN

R.M. of Minitonas, Swan River, Mountain, The Pas

COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR David Hultin

FINANCE

Deb Walger

OFFICE ASSISTANT Tanya Michalsky

CATTLE COUNTRY EDITOR David Hultin

DESIGNED BY

Trinda Jocelyn


September 2020 CATTLE COUNTRY

3

AgriRecovery, BRMs, and Crown lands top of mind I hope this column finds you to be well as we continue to navigate “interesting” times. Since my last column, MBP continued its discussions with the Manitoba government about creating a set-aside program to help manage livestock that have become backed up due to the disruptions at processing plants caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In May the federal government announced a cost-shared AgriRecovery initiative with funding for a set-aside program to help farmers and ranchers keep their animals longer before marketing. These initiatives are usually cost shared 60-40 between the federal and provincial governments. The federal government is providing its 60 per cent share regardless of whether individual provinces make a 40 per cent contribution. Alberta and Saskatchewan provided their 40 per cent share and their set-aside programs were initiated in recent weeks. Ontario has also agreed to put up its 40 per cent and is working with its cattle sector on a program. MBP had asked the Manitoba government to provide its 40 per cent for a local set-aside program, just as other provinces have done. This would not have been without precedent. During the BSE years there was a Canada-Manitoba Fed Cattle Set-Aside Program and a Canada-Manitoba Feeder Cattle Set-Aside Program, both cost-shared on a 60-40 basis by the federal and provincial governments. They proved valuable, providing some needed assistance in that period. MBP has now been advised that the province will not be cost-sharing a set-aside program for fed cattle, but that it is working with the federal government on the development of it, albeit only with the federal contribution. MBP is very disappointed by this decision. MBP knows that all governments in Canada are facing fiscal challenges due to the pandemic as they provide support to both individuals and sectors hard hit by this crisis. MBP strongly believes that maintaining stability in the agriculture sector will be critical for Manitoba and Canada’s socioeconomic wellbeing for decades to come. Cattle production is one of our province’s key economic drivers. Manitoba cattle and calf sales accounted for 6.03% to 7.06% of Canadian farm cash receipts from cattle and calves over the period 2014 to 2018. Further, Manitoba cattle and calf sales accounted for 8.2% to 12.2% of total the province’s farm cash receipts. It has been estimated the Manitoba beef sector generated in the range of 14,540 to 15,913 person-years of employment (jobs) in the provincial economy over that same period. MBP believes an investment by the province in the set-aside program would have paid long-term dividends greater than the cost that would have been incurred by it. The effects of the pandemic on the cattle industry continue to be evaluated by groups like MBP, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, the National Cattle Feeders Association and other stakeholders. The backlog of cattle awaiting processing is dropping, but is still significant and it is unknown if there will be further processing disruptions. There are serious concerns about the implications in the marketplace for cow-calf producers in the weeks and months ahead. MBP believes it is important that government programs remain flexible and responsive to address emerging considerations and MBP will continue to speak with provincial and federal officials about these and other concerns arising in relation to the pandemic. This includes trying to find ways to address the well-known and longstanding shortcomings in the existing business risk management (BRM) programs, especially when it comes to the cattle sector. MBP has repeatedly advanced these concerns with government. Some of the ideas being taken forward by industry to the federal and provincial governments to enhance BRM programs include: remov-

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DIANNE RIDING President's Column

ing the Reference Margin Limit (RML), enhancing the trigger to 85 per cent of the RM for AgriStability, and removal of the payment caps. It is also important to keep in mind that during this pandemic (and even prior to that), there have been repeated comments by governments about the low level of producer participation in BRM programs. The cattle industry is working diligently with governments to try to improve the programs. Although imperfect, producers also need to carefully consider the BRM options to see what could reduce risks to their farms and ranches. Government expectations around operations using the risk management tools available to them is only growing, and the willingness by governments to provide ad hoc programs is only shrinking. There are simply no guarantees when it comes to ad hoc programs being available in a disaster. Please keep sharing your concerns with us about what needs to be changed with BRM programs to make them more effective for you. In other matters, MBP is still awaiting word as to when the Manitoba government will open up the public consultations on the first right of renewal on agricultural Crown land leases. MBP continues to reinforce the need for producers to have their say on this very important matter. We have restated the leaseholders’ concerns related to the first right of renewal, the need for a longer transition period for the rental rate increase, the concerns around the freeze on unit transfers, the valuation process for improvements and more. It is very important that these conversations continue and that movement can be achieved on this priority issue. The review of Manitoba’s suite of forage insurance programs is now complete. MBP thanks Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Blaine Pedersen for initiating this process. Beef producers have often raised concerns about gaps or challenges with the current forage insurance offerings that limit their responsiveness and which discourage them from taking out policies. This review was a valuable opportunity for MBP and our members to identify what is or isn’t working with the existing offerings, and what program changes could help. There are a number of recommendations arising from the report and MBP will work with officials from Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC) and MARD to help ensure that the suite of insurance offerings are as responsive as possible to producers’ needs.

For the third year in a row, the weather has not been our friend (either too dry or too wet), leading to reduced pasture, forage and crop yields. MBP approached MARD in June and asked the province if it would open up Crown lands not normally open to haying and grazing for those purposes. MBP thanks the province for allowing this important access to happen. In July MBP convened a call of the Alternative Feed Strategy Working Group to discuss how to encourage synergies between different sectors in making alternative feeds available to the livestock sector. The Working Group includes reps from MBP, Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP), Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association (MFGA), MARD and MASC. A joint news release between MBP, KAP and the MFGA in this regard was issued. In the spirit of co-operation, we are encouraging Manitoba farmers to avail themselves of the listing resources and work together to ensure feed and straw is available for cattle producers who require it. We truly appreciate those who advertise their available resources for sale. MBP is very pleased to welcome Ray Bittner to its team as the project lead for the three-year Livestock Predation Prevention Pilot Project which is being funded by MARD, MBP and the Manitoba Sheep Association. Ray has extensive experience and familiarity with the predation issue, both from his former work with MARD and he is also a beef producer himself. Bittner will be working with MBP and members of the Livestock Predation Protection Working Group to help roll this important project out in the months ahead. Finally, MBP staff and directors are trying to finalize details for the fall district meetings. Due to various challenges created by the pandemic, a decision has been made to hold in-person meetings only in the odd-numbered districts where director elections are required this year. Interested producers from even-numbered districts will be asked to attend the nearest meeting in an odd-numbered district if they wish. Otherwise MBP will have an online presentation for producers to provide an update on various matters. Due to provincial public health restrictions, it has proven difficult to find halls that are still taking bookings and which have enough space to accommodate the allowable gathering size while still being able to meet the social distancing requirements. As I said in my last column, MBP wants to make sure producers are informed of what’s going on, but we also need to do it safely for producers, and for our directors and our staff. Please monitor MBP’s website and social media for more details, and watch your mail for a district meeting invitation in late September or early October. As we head into harvest time and the cattle run, I wish you all the best for a safe and productive fall.

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4

CATTLE COUNTRY September 2020

Will COVID-19 drive changes in the food supply chain? risks,” says Charlebois, who is involved in the research. The COVID-19 pandemic is highCharlebois acknowledges that Canlighting some issues in terms of our cur- ada does have different challenges, not rent beef production and food supply least of which is the geographical size of chain systems that may require some in- the country and the distances that food novative solutions to make them more needs to travel to reach markets, but he resilient to unexpected disruptions in the believes part of the solution to those chalfuture. lenges is vertical integration, with more Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, Senior Di- producer-owned, local food processing rector at the Agri-Food Analytics Lab, capacity. One of the major benefits of Dalhousie University, is an expert in food such a system is the fact that farmers and supply chain systems and has long been processors have shared interests and obadvocating for more emphasis, and tar- jectives. geted investments in localized food pro“With farmers and processors [in cessing. Canada today], there’s no understanding “Food processing or food manufac- of each other’s business dynamic,” says turing has to become our [food] strate- Charlebois. “Farmers are price takers, gies’ anchor point because if we don’t they’re very vulnerable. They control very invest in processing, or we don’t get that little. And processors are stuck between a part right, that’s when farmers will have rock and a hard place, dealing with farmto deal with backlogs, extra costs and ers on one end and gigantic organizations surpluses,” says Charlebois. “This is the on the other that are setting the tone, conone issue that COVID has made quite trolling the supply chain and have access obvious. Most commodity groups [in to all the data.” Canada] have been affected by an anemic There are many examples around food manufacturing sector, whereas in the world, and in Canada, of commodother countries, where COVID was man- ity groups that have successfully adopted aged differently, the food industry wasn’t this model. “One of the sectors that has impacted as much as in Canada because done very well in vertical coordination food manufacturing has been an impor- [in Canada] is potatoes, because if there’s tant part of their strategy.” a surplus of potatoes, McCain sees that as Other countries, such as the Nether- a problem as much as farmers and they lands, Germany and France have demand try to find solutions together to repurpose chain management systems, which means some of the surpluses, redirect some of it,” they are consumer focused, determining says Charlebois. what consumers want and building arThe beef industry is certainly lagchitecture to support that demand, says ging behind in even looking at a more Charlebois. integrated system, adds Charlebois, and “In Canada and North America, although he praises the work of the Cathe knee-jerk reaction has always been nadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef to grow something with the expectation (CRSB), which is a great example of how that someone will come,” he says. “Today, multiple stakeholders can get together to because of how systemic risks impact sys- advance a common goal, there needs to tems abruptly and quickly, you have to be a lot more of these cooperative models think about growing, processing and dis- put in place if the beef industry wants to tributing food differently now.” be resilient, sustainable and profitable for Canada is currently participating in the future. a global food innovation index, which “There’s not a unique voice. There looks at 27 different performance metrics are divisions within the profession which of 10 countries around the world. actually allows others to dictate rules, so “We haven’t released the report yet, whenever there’s a major problem that but some countries, in Europe in par- emerges, it becomes more difficult to reticular, have performed much better in solve,” says Charlebois. Thurs., Feb 1 Butcher Sale 9:00 am; terms of adapting to a shift in marketplace So, what’s holding the beef industry and they’ve been able to innovate more. Bred Cow Salefrom adopting vertically 1:00 pm back integrated They’ve been able to adapt more to system systems? Mindset and culture are big facTues., Feb 6 Feeder Sale 9:00 am

OCTOBER MARCH

2020 SaleSale Schedule 2018Fall Winter Schedule

SEPTEMBER FEBRUARY

BY ANGELA LOVELL

Thurs., Sept 1 Feb 8 RegularButcher Sale Sale Tues., Sept 8 Feb 13RegularPresort Sale Sale

Thurs., Feb 15 Butcher Sale Sept 15 Regular Sale Bred Cow Sale Sept 22 Presort Sale Tues., Feb 20 Feeder Sale Regular Sale afternoon Thurs., Feb 22 Butcher Sale Sept 29 Presort Sale - Simmental Influence Tues., Feb 27 Presort Sale Regular Sale Afternoon Fri., Mar 2 Cattleman’s Connection Bull Sale Oct 6 Presort Calf Sale Tues., Mar 6 Feeder Sale Regular Sale Afternoon Tues., Mar 13 Presort Sale Oct 13 Presort Calf Sale - Angus Influence Thurs., Mar 15 Bred Cow Sale Oct 20 Presort Calf Sale Tues., Mar 20 Feeder Sale Regular Sale Afternoon Tues., Mar 27 Feeder Sale Oct 27 Presort Calf Sale - Charolais Influence

9:00 am 9am 9:30 am 9am

9:00 am 9am 1:00 pm 930am 9:00 am 9:00 am 930am 9:30 am 1:00 pm 930am 9:00 am 9:30 am 930am 1:00 pm 930am 9:00 am 9:00 am 930am

ALL PRESORT SALES WILL BEinBROADCAST LIVEcow ON THE Presorts MUST be booked advance. Bred salesINTERNET. must be Presorts MUST be booked in advance. cow sales must be pre-booked and in by NOON on Bred Wednesday prior. pre-booked and in bypapers NOON on Wednesday prior. Age verification must be dropped offAge withverification cattle. papers must be dropped off with cattle.

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tors, says Charlebois. “I’ll give you an example for the beef sector,” he says. “I believe that Beyond Meat should have been a Canadian company. It started 12 years ago with some funding out of California, but a lot of the ingredients we can find in Canada, but of course the focus has always been for the longest time on animal proteins and we saw what was being proposed as a threat instead of seeing some of these shifts as an opportunity, and we have failed to do that time and again.” That boils down to a narrow mindset that doesn’t understand that consumerfacing businesses are trying to satisfy a changing marketplace. What Charlebois asks is why producers aren’t doing the same thing? “A steak is great, it’s authentic, it’s natural, but we’re not driving the same car as 30 years ago,” says Charlebois. “Things do change and there’s a way to actually keep a steak natural and authentic while changing as well. We should all be winning by providing value to the market instead of just selling calories.” How has COVID-19 changed consumers’ attitudes to beef? The global COVID-19 pandemic has been powerful and transformational for almost everyone, but will it change our behaviour around food and how we mitigate risks in our lives? And if so, will these changes be long-lasting? There have been plenty of surveys in past years to assess consumer trends and find out what is important to them in terms of the food they eat, focusing on different commodities, including beef. Consistently, over the past five years, the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity’s (CCFI) annual public trust survey has shown that the rising price of food, affordability of healthy food and food safety have ranked in the top five life concerns for Canadian consumers. Food safety has also been in the list of food-system specific concerns for consumers, along with climate change, humane treatment of farm animals and food security. What’s encouraging from past surveys is that a large number of Canadians, (around 60 per cent) are interested in learning more about agriculture, and that process begins with transparency and earning public trust. Public trust has been a major topic on the agenda in just about every agricultural conference or commodity group AGM for years, with lots of discussion about the role primary producers, processors, food companies, retailers, food service partners, non-profit and conservation groups must play in earning and maintaining public trust in Canada’s food system. The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef is an example of how important public trust has become to all of these different stakeholders. So, what has happened to public trust during the global, COVID-19 pandemic? Has it eroded or strengthened? In a May 2020 update to its annual Trust Barometer, global insight and analytics company, Edelman Intelligence showed that global public trust in general (not specifically related to the food system) has increased significantly, especially in Canada and the United States, up 10 points since January of this year. Trust levels for government, business and media have reached record highs in the midst of the global pandemic. So although that trend might suggest that consumers aren’t losing confidence

www.mbbeef.ca

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois

in the systems they rely on to govern and supply them with the essentials of life, food included, are there different things that are now more important to consumers, because of what they have experienced during the pandemic, in terms of not just the quality, price and choice of the food they consume, but also its supply? Dr. Charlebois, as well as researchers at Guelph University have been tracking consumer behaviours and attitudes since the beginning of the pandemic and have seen some changes in behaviour, for example consumers’ willingness to dine out in restaurants, which has a direct impact on the beef industry. Charlebois was lead author of the report that showed many Canadians, (around 50 per cent) are unwilling to go to restaurants this summer because of COVID-19. “The Canadian population is very much split,” says Charlebois. “Pre-COVID, 40 per cent of our food budget was spent on food consumed at a restaurant, so that’s a major shift. Will we still be at 50 per cent [of people going to restaurants] in two or three months? There are so many unknowns about COVID itself, in terms of how long it’s going to last, are we through this, is it coming back? It’s impossible to answer those questions.” The CCFI’s 2020 survey, which will take a deeper dive into consumer behaviour and attitudes, should shed some light on whether COVID-19 has changed them and how long those changes might be likely to impact the food system, including beef producers. Charlebois believes that COVID is going to force a lot of adaptation, innovation and change that needed to happen in food systems, and it’s already starting to happen through things like online direct marketing. “If e-commerce becomes a legitimate option for a lot of people it could de-marketize the supply chain and empower producers eventually, if they take advantage of it by selling their beef directly to the consumer,” says Charlebois. “There are plenty of companies that have never sold direct to consumers, that are now.” Some beef producers have already adapted to selling direct to consumers, so the model is shifting, which is powerful, says Charlebois, because when producers interact directly with consumers they have more opportunity to tell their own, unique stories in a way that is going to resonate, and create value and loyalty from the people buying their products.


September 2020 CATTLE COUNTRY

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Behind the scenes at Great Tastes of Manitoba BY DAVID HULTIN

Editor, Cattle Country

Manitoba's most watched cooking show, Great Tastes of Manitoba, is returning this fall with fresh recipes and a new look. In advance of the season 31 premiere Elisabeth Harms, MBP Food Expert, and Donalee Jones, Senior Producer, shared the inside scoop on what to expect this year. What's new this year? Donalee: Great Tastes of Manitoba Season 31 has a whole new look! We have moved from the Grant Park Liquor Mart location into a new set courtesy of Supper Central. It’s a fresh look and we think our viewers are really going to like it. Also new for Season 31, we are going to be introducing our viewers to a different Manitoba farm family every week. This is something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time. It supports our mandate to build connections between Manitoba farmers and Manitoba consumers. How long does it take to complete each episode? Donalee: Pre-production is by far the most important stage of any film or television project. We spend approximately eight months preparing for each season of Great Tastes. Comparatively, we shoot all 13 episodes over the course of four days, and post production for the whole series takes about four months. Without that extensive pre-production process there is no way we could move as efficiently through production and post-production. How do you develop the recipes? Elisabeth: There is a lot of prep that goes into each segment – sometimes I need three versions of one dish, which makes for A LOT of meat! That is the secret behind ALL TV magic! One of my least favourite parts is making sure none of my ideas overlap with recipes already been done in the last five years or so, and this doesn’t mean overlapping with just beef recipes. You have to take the other commodities into account as well. Sometimes making sure the recipes have a theme is tricky – you want them all to be somewhat cohesive. My favourite part is simply being able to cook different things and experiment. For me, some of the joy comes from trying something a few times in order to get the right balance of flavour. It’s sort of a combination of different things – taking suggestions from friends/family/fans or going with things I want to make. For me, food is something that comes from the heart and sometimes I get inspiration from things my family has cooked in the past. What sort of precautions did the crew take during filming? Donalee: This year was definitely a new experience for our crew. Everyone had to adhere to some strict health and safety guidelines as set out by the province, and by our industry leaders at On Screen Manitoba. Crew had to complete the Shared Health Screening Tool each day prior to arriving on set. They all had their temperature checked and were required to fill out a daily health and safety questionnaire. All behind the scenes

FRIENDLY FACES: Host Dez Daniels on set with MBP food expert Elisabeth Harms. Photo credit: Donalee Jones

SEASON 31 TAKING SHAPE: The GTOM crew was working hard (and staying safe) on set to bring you some new shows for the 31st season premiering September 12 on CTV. Photo credit: Donalee Jones

crew had to wear masks and/or face shields and stay socially distant except for brief exchanges. There was rigorous cleaning and disinfecting happening between filming of episodes and uses of equipment, and everyone was using hand sanitizer and washing up more frequently. We usually have a pretty relaxed and open set, with cast and crew family members visiting throughout the week, but none of that could happen this year. No one was permitted to enter or exit throughout the day without producer permission. Probably the biggest change for our crew though, was that they couldn’t sample the recipes straight off the set anymore! In the past we all ate family style, and got to taste almost everything that was cooked on set, but this year all meals had to be prepared and individually packaged by assigned staff. So our camera guys still got to sample the recipes, but we didn’t have hordes of crew hovering over the counter to try a dish the minute it was ready! What are some of the highlights viewers can look forward to? Donalee: One of the highlights for me is always seeing the ratings. The loyalty of our fan base and the size of our following never fails to blow me away. When you think about the fact that we are a small budget, locally produced series, that has been on air for longer than almost anything else on television, and we’re attracting more Manitoba viewers than anything on the Food Network, it’s pretty amazing. When you see the list of big budget US network shows that have less viewers than Great Tastes it really puts things into perspective. We are one of only a handful of Canadian content programs to make the top 100 rankings, and we are nearly in the top 50 (52nd most watched show with Winnipeg females 35+). People are watching and some have been faithfully watching every Saturday night for 31 years so it definitely makes all the extra effort to overcome challenges worthwhile! How much footage is filmed before arriving at the final product? Donalee: In terms of the cooking segments, it’s actually not that much. We film pretty much “live to tape” which means we aren’t re-taking anything. The food experts cook each dish once and that’s what goes to air. In order to produce three or four episodes per day, we can’t

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really take time to re-do things. New for this year, however, are some behind the scenes stories with Manitoba farm families. These stories are filmed in a more documentary style, and that’s where you see a higher production/end content ratio. On average we spend about six to eight hours with the families in order to produce three and a half minutes of finished documentary content. Page 11 

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6

CATTLE COUNTRY September 2020

Genetic programming for mid to late gestation period Besides influencing calf growth, undernutrition of gestating cows has been illustrated to reduce passive immunity. While there was no difference in immunoglobulin Because of the pattern of placental growth in relation concentration in the colostrum of cows when fed different to fetal growth during gestation, it also is important to real- levels of protein, the amount of absorption by the calf after ize that the effects of maternal nutrition during pregnancy birth increased as protein levels increased in the dam diet. may depend on the timing, level or length of altered mater- It appears that protein restriction during late gestation can nal diet. Last column’s article talked about first trimester negatively impact colostral transfer. Immune function is critical for calf health which is directly correlated to feednutrition. Now we will discuss the impacts of nutrition during mid and late lot performance, carcass value and profitability. A Journal of Animal Science study reported that calves treated once gestation. for disease returned $40.62 less, calves treated twice returned $58.35 less and calves treated 3 or more times returned $291.93 less compared with untreated calves. The greatest loss in cow/ calf production systems occurs Workshops are being delivered in the first month of life - with by webinar during the evening industry average death losses being 6-16%. With a 90% born • Webinars take place in the evenings so producers aren’t taken away from alive rate, this is considered a their daily chores. preventable animal welfare issue • The interactive webinars are delivered using web based video conferencing with a huge negative economic software. impact. Dystocia (difficulty at • Participants can interact during the presentations, hear the presenters, birth as a result of fetal over or and ask questions or make comments in real time. under-size or prematurity) is the • Also available via app for iOS and Android. main cause of neonatal calf mortality, either directly or indirectly via decreased vigor. Research has shown that nutrient restriction during mid-gestation has • Webinar may be cancelled on a given week due to a lack of registered the greatest influence on calf viparticipants. ability by adversely affecting the • Pre-registration is required. ability of the newborn to adapt • Contact Melissa Atchison at (204) 264-0294 or email: rapidly to life “on the outside”. verifiedbeefmanitoba@gmail.com for details. The ability to thermoregulate, stand, nurse and ingest sufficient How to register for webinars or LIVE workshop colostrum in the first hours of life is required. Whereas protein • To sign up to attend a webinar or the LIVE workshop, please contact Melissa restriction in early pregnancy Atchison at (204) 264-0294 or email verifiedbeefmanitoba@gmail.com. can stimulate nursing behaviour, • Alternate times and days can be arranged based on producer demand. restriction in later pregnancy often results in calf weakness and

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poor colostrum quality and quantity especially in the face of warmer ambient temperatures (late May/June calving). However, the ultimate impact on calf survival appears to be influenced by a combination of factors. The same nutrition can have different effects depending on the herd genetics, the ambient temperature, the timing of the nutritional changes and the sex of the calf. Fetal growth retardation is more pronounced if maternal undernutrition occurs in late pregnancy when the fetal growth rate is highest. Cows grazed on poor quality pasture and with limited feed resources that resulted in weight loss during pregnancy produced offspring that grew more slowly before weaning and in the feedlot, irregardless of whether or not the sires had genetics for high yield or high marbling. Placental insufficiency can result from several environmental challenges, including heat, nutrient restriction and illness. This causes changes in the development of muscle, pancreas, liver and fat tissue and is evidenced in studies of people born during WW2 and during various famines. Similar to low birthweight children, low birthweight animals demonstrate accelerated catch-up growth (as in the feedlot) that is driven by increased fat deposition rather than muscle growth. This leads to a smaller carcass yield, smaller high-value cuts and increased fat thickness but decreased marbling. In summary, cow herd nutrition has long-term consequences for later calf growth and feedlot performance. Severe feed restriction during pregnancy reduces fetal growth capacity with smaller-for-age animals that take longer to reach market weights but has little effect on feedlot efficiency or carcass and meat quality. Specific nutritional interventions, particularly during later pregnancy, may limit these adverse outcomes. During drought years, it is critical that spring calving herds receive top quality feed post weaning to avoid poor performance of the next year’s calf crop. Similarly, during years with an abundance of feed supplies, testing and adjusting rations for optimal protein and energy levels will ensure quality genetics and performance of subsequent generations.

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September 2020 CATTLE COUNTRY

Forage insurance changes on the way following review BY ANGELA LOVELL The Manitoba government recently released a report on its review of forage insurance programs offered through the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC). The review was initiated to get a better understanding of the purchasing decisions of Manitoba producers in terms of the forage insurance products available to them. “Producers across the provinces have often raised concerns about some of the gaps and challenges with the current offerings, so it is good that the provincial government and MASC went through this process to try and determine what some of those challenges are, and are taking steps to try and improve the programs and make them more workable for producers,” says Carson Callum, Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) General Manager. Input sought from all industry sectors The review was conducted using a number of different methods, including the online EngageMB portal, focus groups, and interviews with producers, MASC insurance agents, agricultural specialists, industry associations, financial advisors, as well as other insurance providers. In announcing the review findings, Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Blaine Pedersen said, “Regardless of the type of crop, producers are faced with tough decisions on what products make the most sense to help manage risk. It is important to get feedback so that we have a clear picture of what products they need to support their success in the agricultural industry. We’re pleased with the input we received from the many invested stakeholders and look forward to making improvements to the program where possible.” More than 1,200 producers currently have forage insurance through MASC, insuring in excess of 272,000 acres. This represents about 18 per cent of the more than 1.5 million eligible acres of for-

age in Manitoba. Factors affecting participation identified The review discovered a number of factors that affect producers’ decisions to purchase or not purchase forage insurance, and it seems that many lack confidence that the current program will cover their forage risk. Some of that perception could be a lack of understanding of the program. But producers also have concerns about the way in which yield is calculated under the program, coverage that doesn’t reflect the high cost of purchasing replacement feed in years when claims are triggered, and the administrative burden that the program places on producers. “I think administrative burden is a growing issue for all farmers, but beef producers in particular,” says Tyler Fulton, MBP Vice-President. “We need to be cutting, raking and baling, but are also expected to record and submit records, meet deadlines and be audited, and all of these things are adding to our already long list of things to do. Anything they can do to make it easier to meet the administrative requirements is money well spent.” Concerns with yield coverage A number of concerns emerged with regard to yield coverage. Producers felt that yield coverage offered to new insureds and producers that change their forage field (due to age or mix of forage) is not aligned with a producer’s expected yield until a producer builds up individual records over time, which can take up to seven years. In the meantime, they have coverage based on an area average yield, which can penalize producers with aboveaverage forage production until they can get to fully individualized coverage. Producers also felt that coverage is too sensitive to disaster years, resulting in coverage below expected yields following disaster years, and too low for meaningful protection. “It can take seven or eight years to have an average on your own farm, and until then [if you have a claim, coverage] will be based on averages

for your general area, and I feel that’s a deterrent because there are so many variables that make it difficult to use area averages. We can have a wide spread on what crops are yielding in a small area,” says MBP President Dianne Riding. More and more producers are also looking at alternative forages other than the traditional alfalfa, such as silage corn and polycrops, and Riding is hopeful that changes to the program will recognize that. “If the changes are made, it will help our beef producers, especially those that are trying to get the basis for coverage on their own farm, because we hear from producers doing silage corn that they are not happy with the coverage, if they have a claim, when it’s based on area averages,” she says. “For producers going to other forage mixes, we hope to get adequate coverage for those crops too.” The review suggests that MASC explore an index-based insurance approach, which is being used in other countries and Canadian provinces, that relies on weather or satellite-based technology to measure factors correlated to actual production instead of having to gather on-farm, physical production information. While the review introduced this concept to producers, they were interested in its potential for Manitoba. “We have the technology, we need to start using it to help give a more accurate picture of what the area averages really are,” says Riding. MASC hopes to implement changes for next insurance year Several key recommendations were made as a result of the review, and MASC says it will take immediate action to try and implement some of the changes for the next insurance year. This includes exploring new ways to assign coverages to new insureds, determining if the effect that disaster years have on future coverage can be minimized, establishing insured values that better reflect the price of hay in claim years, and identifying areas where the ad-

ministrative burden can be minimized. Communications is another area that needs work, as it emerged through the review process that some of the lack of uptake in forage insurance is due to producers’ lack of understanding or misconceptions of the program. There was broad consensus that there is poor understanding of the programs by producers, associations and financial advisors, the report says, adding that an underlying reason is the many options available and the complexity in the programs. The report urges MASC to work more closely with industry to inform producers and increase awareness of its forage insurance programs. No one-size-fits-all solution Coming up with a

forage insurance program that fits all types of producers isn’t easy, says Art Jonasson, Reeve of the Rural Municipality of West Interlake, who ranches on the east side of Lake Manitoba, and who gave input into the review. He feels it’s likely the reason that the review’s estimates for increases in expected participation, if recommended changes to the program are made, remain conservative, at around 30 to 40 per cent of insurable tame hay acres. “It seems like they have set a low bar for uptake, but I think that recognizes that there is such a wide variety of conditions on each producer’s farm, and a variety of risk,” says Jonasson. “Young producers starting out have the most risk, so hopefully the program can be a tool

that is going to work for them to help them offset some of their risk.” The report concludes that if producers had complete confidence that their insurance program covered their forage risk, they would invest more in their forages and hold onto or expand their herds. “Producers need to know that the programs they are enrolling in are going to cover the losses they incur, and if there is improvement in the delivery of these programs to ensure they make sense for producers and are easy to use, there could be an uptick in enrolment,” says Callum. The Forage Insurance program is part of AgriInsurance, a joint program of the Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

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8

CATTLE COUNTRY September 2020

StockTalk Q&A Feature

brought to you by Manitoba Agriculture Resource Development, Livestock Extension Branch

effect on the level of root reserves, provided that plants have become dormant. Livestock Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture Another major considand Resource Development eration that affects alfalfa’s tim.clarke@gov.mb.ca winter survivability is the temperature of the crown. The crown is the part of the plant from which all stems Q: My alfalfa fields are getting poorer originate. If, during the winter, the crown and I want to assure that my yield will not is exposed to -12 to -15° C or colder for 24 to 36 hours, its chance of winterkill is indrop in 2021. What do I need to do? Answer: Proper fertility and fall cut- creased substantially. Snow cover insulates ting management are the largest factors that the crown and reduces the chance of winter promote long-term productivity of alfalfa. injury. For stands cut in the post-frost peFall harvest management of alfalfa can riod, leaving strips of uncut alfalfa to catch affect winter survival of alfalfa stands. Har- snow and insulate crowns from cold winter vesting alfalfa between August 15 and the temperatures can improve winter survival. first killing frost results in depletion of root Leaving a small strip of standing alfalfa evreserves and increases the chance of winter ery 24 to 30 feet will usually allow enough snow to accumulate and insulate the crop injury. After alfalfa is cut, root reserves are from cold winter temperatures. Variety and type of alfalfa also affect used to initiate re-growth. This draws down carbohydrate reserves in the roots. It results winter survivability of alfalfa. With tap in the root reserves being at their lowest rooted varieties the crown is generally 1.27 when plants reach 15 to 20 centimetres (six centimetres (½ inch) above ground/soil to eight inches) tall. If killing frost occurs at level, so it can be more readily exposed to the 15 to 20-centimetre height, replenish- cold winter air temperatures. The crowns ment of root reserves is curtailed and win- of creeping rooted varieties are at ground level, so they are generally more winter ter injury can be expected. The map below illustrates when we hardy. Other factors influencing the chance should avoid taking another cut of alfalfa, from the date listed, until the first killing of winter injury include phosphorus, potash and sulphur fertility, age of the stand, frost (usually -3° C for several hours). Sometimes, there is an opportunity to fall dormancy rating of the variety, and take a second or third cut after killing frost soil moisture levels. Where soils test lower has occurred in late September or early Oc- than 120 ppm in potassium, alfalfa winter tober. There is little growth after a killing survival will improve if potash fertilizer is frost and removal of forage will have little added.

TIM CLARKE

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The August/September period is a good time to consider starting to renovate those old, low productivity, winterkilled hay fields. Taking out old hayfields, STARTING with a non-selective herbicide (such as glyphosate) application, is the preferred method, since it leaves the root channels of the killed alfalfa and grass plants more intact for water movement in subsequent seasons. It also leaves the soil less exposed to wind and water erosion, and the soil temperatures remain cooler to promote the

persistence of beneficial organisms in the soil. When sod and vegetation decompose, they absorb nitrogen and later release nutrients once fully decomposed. Also, the soil pH drops around the decomposing sods. This makes it difficult to re-establish alfalfa for a while. For these reasons, I recommend starting the renovation process the prior fall. We want to hear from you For the next issue of Cattle Country, a Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development forage or livestock specialist will answer a selected question. Send your questions to Tim.Clarke@gov.mb.ca The StockTalk Q&A Feature for Cattle Country is brought to you by Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development. We encourage you to email your questions to our department’s forage and livestock team, who have a combined 200 years of agronomy experience. We are here to help make your cattle operation successful. Contact us today.

Feeding your Cattle As haying season is winding down, thoughts about whether we have enough feed for the winter start to increase in importance. Fall and early winter are good times to plan, by taking bale counts, cattle counts, culling the open females, and shipping enough animals to match feed inventory with livestock numbers. Also, talking to farming neighbours about whether they might have straw or corn stover to bale up before the combines roll, is a good idea. Remember that although spreading the straw or stover behind the combine MAY seem like that product is being discarded or wasted, it is not. Grain producers are quite aware of the value of adding plant material back to the soil. Returning organic materials back to soils helps to increase fertility and water holding capacity, while reducing leaching, runoff, salinization and soil erosion. A ton (2,000 lbs.) of wheat straw contains about 11 lbs. of nitrogen, three lbs. of phosphorus and 20 lbs. of potassium. The fertilizer cost of these nutrients works out to be about $15 per ton. A 1,200 lb. bale of wheat straw contains about $9 worth of nutrients. Keep this in mind when asking to pur-

chase your neighbours straw or stover in the windrow. Straw, stover and/or native hay can be supplemented with alternative feeds, such as distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGs), or off-quality grains or screenings to balance the ration when hay supplies are tight. Securing supply and prices of these products sooner, rather than later, can reduce financial stress and enhance animal performance during our long, cold winters. Your Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development Livestock Specialists are available to help you sort through your different nutrition and financial options. They are: • Kathleen Walsh at Swan River, Kathleen.Walsh@gov.mb.ca, 204-2811960 • Elizabeth Nernberg at Roblin, Elizabeth.Nernberg@gov.mb.ca, 204247-0087 • Pamela Iwanchysko at Dauphin, Pamela.Iwanchysko@gov.mb.ca, 204648-3965 • Shawn Cabak at Portage La Prairie, Shawn.Cabak@gov.mb.ca, 204-2393353 • Tim Clarke at Gladstone, Tim. Clarke@gov.mb.ca, 204-768-0534

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September 2020 CATTLE COUNTRY

9

Market volatility expected to continue for the fall RICK WRIGHT The Bottom Line As this edition goes to print a large portion of the yearlings in Western Canada will have been priced for delivery. Prices appear to be 8 to 10 cents per pound lower than last fall. Producers are starting to look towards the fall calf run with some apprehension. This has certainly been the summer of discontent in the cattle industry. COVID-19 caused disruptions in the meat processing industry, creating a backlog of both beef and pork on both sides of the border. Exports have dropped off due to unstable economies around the world. Cattle feeders in western Canada have been suffering losses of $200 to $400 per head on fed cattle. Industry experts reported that there was a 130,000 head surplus of fed cattle in the pipeline; this made cattle feeders very nervous and created volatility in the cattle prices. Packers have ramped up weekly harvesting numbers and carcass weights in Canada are very close to last year’s weights. Canadian packers are booking cattle two to four weeks out, with market-ready cattle moving in more timely deliveries than expected. This has created pen space in the west for backgrounded cattle and yearlings off the grass. A few positive things have changed over the summer months that have altered the price prediction formulas for the fall calf run. In Manitoba, we have a calf market that is heavily influenced by eastern demand. At times, Manitoba has the highest calf market in western Canada when the Ontario and Quebec cattle feeders are active on the market. Two major factors determine their interest. First is availability and the cost of backgrounding calves in Manitoba. At this time, both of these fundamentals look positive. The number of backgrounding pens in Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan has not changed significantly from last year. Harvest looks like it will be early, allowing the backgrounding lots to get their silage up, and if the

weather stays dry the pens will be in good shape to receive cattle. This would be a sharp contrast from last fall’s late harvest and wet weather. Early indications are that feed costs to background and finish cattle should be cheaper this year. Corn crops in the USA are expected to yield higher than last year with cash corn predicted at under $3.00 USD per bushel. China has kept the Canadian barley market stronger than expected, but the strong Canadian dollar will allow feeders to import corn at a competitive price. The second factor is the availability of local feeder cattle and lighter weight yearlings from the west. The east would prefer to buy weaned calves and yearlings due to health issues with freshly weaned calves. When we get into October, most of the yearlings are gone and some of the eastern feedlots will purchase calves, which puts more competition into the Manitoba calf market. In Alberta, the larger feedlots prefer yearlings over calves and normally have a good supply of local calves in late October thru December. Pen space is always a concern, and this year will no different. Many feedlots have put current inventory on lighter rations to try to avoid the predicted glut of fed cattle on the market. This means some pens will be slower to open up this fall. In Alberta, there have been reports that the fed cattle backlog could be cleaned up by the end of October. This optimistic approach is supported by smaller than predicted feeder cattle placements put on feed in March through May. During that time there was a total of 107,000 head fewer cattle - an average 23% - put on feed in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Nearly 43% fewer heifers were put in feedlots, which could indicate that there will be a lot more bred stock available this fall. This would help offset the 100,000 extra cattle that were reported inventory in the first quarter. Exports of

feeder cattle to the USA are still running 50% behind last year. Imports of feeder cattle are up an additional 15% at just under 85,000. These figures still add up to lots of cattle on feed in Canada. To hope that the backlog of market ready cattle to by cleaned up by October is highly optimistic. It currently looks like it could be considerably cheaper to feed cattle in the USA this year. Whether it is American feedlots buying or Canadian investors feeding cattle in the USA, there should be more interest from the south on Manitoba feeder cattle this fall. One piece of good news for cow calf operators is that there are predictions that the Canadian cowherd has been decreasing and inventory could be between 100,000 and 125,000 fewer calves on the ground by this fall. In a supply and demand driven market, fewer calves on offer is positive for the calf seller in the fall. With extra feed available this year, some producers may decide to retain ownership of their calves until next spring, which could also lighten the volume of calves on offer this fall. The only cattle showing a profit right now are the yearlings off the grass and those returns did not match the pre-COVID

projections. Cattle feeders are talking about strict buying discipline for this fall. However when the time comes, I predict that the urge to own some inventory will outweigh the discipline discussed during the summer. Will the calf prices be as good as last year? That would be a gift under the current volatility in the market. It looks like the calf market will be better than first predicted but may struggle to meet last fall’s prices.

The biggest fear is still the threat of a major second wave of COVID-19 and another disruption in the processing sector. Consumers are already starting to shy away from food service vendors, going back to take-out or home-prepared meals. Large supplies are keeping the boxed beef prices under pressure. As optimistic as we would like to be, we have to remember that the pork industry is in even bigger trouble on both sides of the border, with

lower prices and unpredictable demand. Cheap pork keeps the price of beef from reaching its potential. This fall is going to be a challenge for everyone in the industry. Market prices will vary from day to day and location to location. The best advice I can give is keep an open line of communication with your marketing representatives and do your due diligence on market demand. Stay safe my friends, Rick

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10 CATTLE COUNTRY September 2020

Hands-on learning connecting beef cattle with habitat conservation BY: DR. MARY-JANE ORR

MBFI General Manager

With less than 2% of our population directly connected to agriculture the need in urban and rural communities to connect to nature and understand agriculture is greater than ever. The Manitoba Beef & Forage Initiatives (MBFI) Learning Centre (LC) grounds development project “Connecting Prairie Pothole Habitat Conservation with Beef Cattle Production” is underway in establishing a number of new features at the Brookdale Farm. The developing LC interpretive program and site improvements will uniquely connect visitors to natural areas with hands-on learning link-

ing the role of beef cattle production in conserving wildlife habitat in the Prairie Pothole region. Building on the public engagement made possible through the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, MBFI aims to provide first-hand experiences to support Manitoba beef producers. The outdoor learning component complements a modern meeting centre located in Western Manitoba. The LC is situated on 640 acres encompassing wetlands, wood bluffs, pasture, hayfields, and annually cropped fields to produce forage for beef cattle. The LC facility, opened in 2018, has been widely used to

facilitate meetings and outreach with producers, students, industry, and the public. Establishment of new interactive features in 2020 creates opportunities to broadly engage with schools and the public for outdoor learning on a working beef farm. MBFI in collaboration with DUC will also have targeted student-to-student mentorship in wetland conservation through the Wetland Centres of Excellence program. Improved ecological goods and services of increased biodiversity, increased public access to nature, and interpretive program delivered in natural areas is underway

through three enhancement areas. MBFI will showcase the biodiversity of plant species present in native and tame grasslands in raised garden beds with 32 native grasses and forbs in comparison to 32 tame perennial grasses, legumes, cereal forages, and cover crop plants. Representative plants in a garden setting will facilitate understanding, identification and open discussion around niche roles different species have in grassland ecosystems. Comparison to tame forage species will also be valuable in understanding differences and shared environmental benefits of native grasslands and established grasslands for forage and grazing production.

Approximately a half acre of the LC front lawn is being transitioned to a native riparian meadow with representative plants from the raised garden also established into the meadow. Pathways through the riparian meadow will lead into an interpretive trail through bordering wooded area, shelter belt establishment demonstration, and adjacent wetlands with floating dock access. The trail will highlight feature areas to provide a framework to experience natural transition zones present in a working beef cattle operation. Educational programing through guided tours will increase awareness of beef cattle production practices and how livestock share the

landscape to create habitat for increased biodiversity of birds, pollinators, wildlife, and plants. Support for this project has been provided by the Conservation Trust, a Manitoba Climate and Green Plan Initiative delivered by the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation. This project was made possible through collaboration with Ducks Unlimited Canada education team; Mae Elsinger, Rangeland Management Specialist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; and Arbour Barbers, certified arborist. MBFI is looking forward to growing additional collaboration around the development as it takes root and establishes a unique hands-on learning space.

Minestrone soup - with a twist - sure to please BY ELISABETH HARMS Fall is approaching so quickly! And, with it perhaps a bit of a return to some sort of routine. While we are still unsure about what these fall routines will look like this year, chances are we will still need some quick and easy weeknight meal ideas to help us get through. This recipe for minestrone should be considered a regular in your meal rotation as it packs some great nutrition into a very hearty soup.

CAN

CELL

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The soup starts with ground beef, browned with garlic and onion. After browning the ground beef, add the frozen veggies and some seasoning. You’ll want to sauté the veggies with ground beef a little bit to thaw them out and to begin their cooking process. After the veggies have mostly thawed, add some broth, canned tomatoes, and tomato sauce. After you stir everything together, bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes. Then, you’ll add your noodles and some canned white kidney beans to the soup and cook for an-

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www.mbbeef.ca

other 10 minutes. This soup is ready to eat in under an hour and uses a variety of pantry staple ingredients — each lending a different quality to the soup. Frozen veggies and canned tomatoes give the soup some freshness. Canned white kidney beans provide the soup with some extra protein and fibre. They also give the soup extra nutritional value and help make the soup feel more like a full meal. This version of minestrone uses one other rather unique ingredient — a parmesan cheese rind. Adding the parmesan rind to the soup adds extra flavour and creaminess to the soup. You want to add the rind when you add the broth and tomatoes to the soup. The rind won’t fully melt into the soup, but it will soften considerably during the cooking process. You can remove it before serving. If you don’t have a leftover parmesan rind in your fridge, you can puree half a cup of white kidney beans instead and stir that to the soup before serving. This will also give the soup some creaminess and body. To save even more time for future meals, you can buy ground beef in a club pack and brown it and freeze it in one-pound batches. This will make it easy for you to pull a weeknight meal together if you find yourself short on time. This is just one idea for your big batch of ground beef, but keep in mind once it’s browned, you can make everything from nachos to spaghetti sauce or lasagna. Let yourself be more creative and visit www.canadabeef. ca for more ideas. This recipe, along with many other great meal ideas, will be available on www.greattastes.mb.ca very soon.


September 2020 CATTLE COUNTRY 11

TESA Applications A peek into GTOM Due to MBP by Dec 4

Manitoba Beef Producers is accepting applications for Manitoba’s Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA) until Friday, December 4, 2020. Since 1996, the Canadian Cattlemen Association’s (CCA) TESA has recognized producers who go above and beyond standard industry conservation practices, setting positive examples for other cattle producers and the general public. At the provincial level, the winning operation receives recognition for its outstanding contributions, which in MBP’s case occurs in conjunction with its annual general meeting in February. All provincial award recipients then move forward to compete at the national level.

The national TESA recipient is announced in conjunction with the Canadian Beef Industry Conference and CCA Semi-Annual Meeting in August. Each TESA nominee exemplifies significant innovation and attention to a wide range of environmental stewardship aspects of their farm operation. Such innovations extend beneficially to areas far beyond their land, including water, wildlife and air. All beef cattle operations in Canada may apply. Producers can either be nominated by an individual or organization, or apply themselves. Nominees and applicants compete for one of the provincial awards based on their province of residence. For more information and to access the application go to http://www.cattle. ca/sustainability/the-environmentalstewardship-award/, or contact MBP for a copy. The form, along with all supporting documentation (such as letters of support, photos and/or videos), is to be submitted to Manitoba Beef Producers c/o 220-530 Century Street, Winnipeg, MB R3H 0Y4 by December 4, 2020. The application is to be emailed to info@mbbeef.ca . If you have questions, please contact the MBP office at 1-800-772-0458.

 Page 5 It’s a big commitment of time on their part, but all of these families have been so welcoming and invited us into their homes, toured us around their farms - often during their busiest season. They’ve fed us and put up with all our requests. They’ve been so open and honest in their interviews. It really is an honour to be able to share their stories. Where do all the leftovers go? Donalee: What leftovers? We really do try our best to avoid wasting any food. This year because of health and safety restrictions we had to get a bit more creative because the crew weren’t able to eat everything. Our food experts often take the leftovers home to feed their families, or their co-workers. Some cooking shows use food-styling hacks to make dishes look even tastier – what does GTOM do? Donalee: We are actually really proud of

the fact that we don’t use any of those food-styling hacks (or at least not the ones you might consider hacks, where they incorporate a whole bunch of inedible elements into a dish to try and make it look more edible). What you see on the plate at the end of a segment generally contains nothing but the recipe itself. Of course, we have a very talented food stylist who gets the placement of ingredients just right and knows how to garnish and plate things up so they look delicious, but there’s no hack involved, just a lot of planning and careful consideration. Good lighting never hurts either! What’s harder: filming or editing each segment? Donalee: That’s a tough question! If you were asking my editor, Lawrence Garry, he’d probably say editing but since you’re not asking him, I’m going to say filming. There is a lot of planning that goes into making sure

we have exactly what we need to pull off a successful production day. Scheduling (down to the minute), budgeting, finding the right crew, lists of ingredients and cookware that need to be available on set for each cooking segment, rehearsing the content and making sure we can demonstrate a recipe in five minutes or less, designing and lighting the set, creating a television studio in a space that was not designed to be a television studio, hair, make-up and wardrobe, making sure Dez Daniels (GTOM host) is prepared with all the right talking points, there are just so many things to consider. Lucky for me we have a great team, many of whom have been with the show for 20+ years and so they make my job pretty easy. Make sure to watch CTV Winnipeg at 6:30pm on September 12 and October 31 to see what Elisabeth has cooking! You can also catch the episodes on http://greattastesmb.ca/

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12 CATTLE COUNTRY September 2020

Photo courtesy of Staden Farms

Photo courtesy of Canadian Sheep Federation

GET TO KNOW US BETTER Photo courtesy of Connie Seutter

CCIA is the responsible administrator for cattle, bison, sheep and pending regulation, cervids and goats in Canada (with some exceptions in Quebec).

canadaid.ca

CCIA

CANADIAN CATTLE IDENTIFICATION AGENCY

KNOW | CLTS DATABASE clts.canadaid.ca Login to your CLTS account via your home computer or MOBO app; input your premises ID number and update your account information.

Prepare for proposed regulatory amendments now, to save time later. Get to know the Canadian Livestock Tracking System (CLTS), learn how by using the CLTS Resource Centre. Take a look at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s TRACE newsletters for information on the proposed amendments at https://www.canadaid.ca/traceability/newsletters/

LEARN | CLTS RESOURCE CENTRE support.canadaid.ca An online information and learning source on how to use the Canadian Livestock Tracking System (CLTS).

USE | TRACEABILITY TECHNOLOGY support.canadaid.ca/clts-mobo/ Download the CLTS MOBO phone app from your favorite app store and put the CLTS database in your hand.

To learn more about how we are working towards traceability together, visit:

canadaid.ca info@canadaid.ca | 1-877-909-2333

www.mbbeef.ca


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