Environment Committee

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The Environment Committee works on assessing federal policy and regulations in the environmental realm and undertaking strategic initiatives that advance environmentally sound beef production and understanding.

In 2018, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) environment and policy staff continued to actively engage with Senators, Members of Parliament (MPs) and various government department staff regarding Bill C-68, amendments to the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence. The proposed legislation was amended prior to third reading at the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans level, followed by passage in the House of Commons in June 2018. Analysis of the amended Act, and in particular the addition of a subsection deeming virtually all bodies of water as fish habitat that are nearly impossible for beef producers to be in compliance with, led to a CCA submission to the Senate of Canada calling for the removal of the deeming habitat provision as well as exemptions for small low impact agricultural activities and artificial infrastructures.

 

Following the launch of the Certified Sustainable Beef Framework in 2017, the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) launched a series of logos and sustainability claims guidelines that support public and consumer communication this year.

 

Development of these final key pieces of the framework included CRSB multi-stakeholder member feedback, key industry stakeholder input (including the CCA), which were supported by recommendations from CRSB’s first beef consumer research study on sustainability conducted
this year.

 

A new committee was established in 2018 to guide implementation of the framework. Three certification bodies were approved to conduct certification and assurance for the CRSB’s Framework, including the establishment of full equivalency with Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+).

 

McDonald’s Canada, the first company to use the CRSB’s Certification Mark, launched a national campaign featuring the new logo. CRSB continues to further develop its Sustainability Projects Pillar, to coordinate and collaborate on industry projects that support the goals of the National Beef Sustainability Strategy.

 

In addition, Monica Hadarits was appointed as the new CRSB Executive Director, as Fawn Jackson assumed a new role in government and international relations at the CCA.

The response from Senators to the CCA’s concerns and recommendations regarding C-68 has been positive and receptive. The government is very aware of CCA’s position as well as those of several natural resource representative organizations regarding the deeming habitat provision among other concerns with the proposed legislation. Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada staff is determining whether an effective amendment to the deeming habitat provision can be found or whether the provision is repealed. The Bill passed second reading in the Senate and was moved to Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for study in February 2019. CCA staff will continue to engage Senators, MP’s and government staff on this issue, as any Senate amendments to the proposed legislation would require subsequent passage by the House of Commons. CCA environment staff is also researching potential impacts on Canada’s beef producers with the proposed Canadian Navigable Waters Act, an amendment to the Navigation Protection Act, within the expansive Bill C-69. The new Act, in part, introduces new protections and enforcement powers and implements modern day safeguards for the public right of navigation across Canada. Health Canada’s Pesticide Regulatory Management Agency (PMRA) had sought comment on a re-evaluation decision on the use of liquid strychnine to control Richardson’s ground squirrels. The 
CCA provided the PMRA with two submissions calling for the continued access for producers to this important rodent control tool. At time of writing the PMRA had not published its final re-evaluation. The CCA continues to be engaged federally and internationally in the conversations surrounding greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from livestock and the recognition of the potential for carbon sequestration in lands managed by beef cattle producers. The CCA supports efforts to find scientifically sound, reliable and cost-effective methods to accurately measure and monitor soil organic carbon, which in turn could support the development of carbon offsets for sequestered carbon in native grasslands and rangelands managed, in large part, by Canadian beef cattle producers. To that end, the CCA provided a letter of support for funding for the Food Water Wellness Foundation’s Soil Carbon Quantification Project – a study to develop processes enabling landowners to accurately measure and monitor soil organic carbon. The CCA also provided a letter of support for an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada project to improve the Holos model used to calculate GHG intensities of agricultural production systems. Data from this model has been used to support messaging on how efficient the Canadian beef sector is related to reducing emissions in recent decades.
The future of the Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change remains unknown. Last October the Government of Canada announced it would impose a federal carbon pricing system in Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan effective in 2019. These provinces have developed their own approach to reducing carbon emissions. And while Alberta has a carbon pricing system, the future of the existing plan may hinge on the outcome of the upcoming provincial election. The CCA has advocated for the exemption of agriculture from any carbon pricing scheme based on several factors including: negative impacts on competitiveness; agriculture is extremely trade dependent and implementing a carbon price on highly traded goods is complicated; and, there is limited ability and relatively minimal gains to further reduce the GHG footprint within the industry. The CCA advocates for incentives for GHG emissions reductions and not penalties that add costs to food production. The CCA supports the development of payments for ecological goods and services, called PES programs, to incentivize GHG emissions reductions where possible. The CCA will continue to monitor the impacts on input costs and competitiveness for beef producers in regions where the government imposes the federal carbon pricing scheme. Brian and Sonja Harper and family of Circle H Farms near Brandon, MB were the recipient of the 2018 The Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA). The Harper’s strong emphasis on monitoring and improving soil biology and overall health of their lands at Circle H were noted by the judges in their selection from a very strong group of provincial stewardship award recipients. We look forward to evaluating a new slate of provincial candidates for the 2019 TESA. The CCA Environment Committee and staff continue dialogue with conservation organizations on advancing new and novel options for beef producers to comfortably engage with these organizations to develop simple, flexible yet successful conservation agreements, which could encompass PES program components. This process is still in the early stages, but the dialogue and exchange of ideas has been very positive to date. As directed by the Environment Committee, staff has begun the process of gaining insight regarding potential impacts programs like crop insurance and price supports have on the conversion of grassland to cropland. Initial communications have taken place with a specialized researcher and funds for a study are being sought. CCA staff continue to monitor the relatively high-level discussion on the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD) Post 2020 process keying on plans to establish Protected Area (PA) networks and our position regarding mobilizing resources for PES programs and compensation when the establishment of a PA impacts landowners. In a separate, yet related, process we are involved in a project to create a certification process for Privately Protected Areas to tally conserved lands that would currently not be included in a country’s total land area under conservation. This could lead to reduced need to protect areas to meet a target. Without doubt, 2018 has been a very busy year for the CCA Environment Committee and staff, and 2019 is shaping up to be just as busy. We can fully expect public scrutiny to continue on the climate front, the identification and protection of key biodiversity areas, species at risk, water use and more. CCA staff is working closely with the Public and Stakeholder Engagement arm helping them address environmental and climate issues in an informed manner. And as usual, as the conversation around climate change continues, it remains critical those discussions include how sustainable beef production can be an effective partner to achieving Canada’s economic and environmental targets.

Committee Members: Duane Thompson, Chair; Gord Adams; Colin Campbell; Lynn Grant, Pat Hayes; Joe Hill; Grant Huffman; Victor Oulton; Doug Sawyer;
Tim Smith; Miles Wowk;
YCC ex-officio Ben Campbell. CCA staff: Larry Thomas.

© 2019 Canadian Cattlemen's Association