Manitoba Beef Producers

A wide variety of issues and activities dominated the work of Manitoba Beef Producers’ (MBP) directors and staff in 2018.

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As always water-related matters figured high on the list. Drought conditions proved problematic, causing feed and water shortages. Concerns arose that some producers would be forced to downsize their operations, this at the same time that the Manitoba government has expressed its desire to see the province’s beef herd grow to pre-BSE levels. MBP lobbied the federal and provincial governments for initiatives to help affected producers. The federal government identified 80 designated regions in Manitoba where producers could access the Livestock Tax Deferral Provision. The Manitoba government announced two initiatives. First, in late August it allowed producers to temporarily cut hay and graze animals on Crown land not normally designated for agricultural use, such as wildlife management areas. MBP believes that being able to graze and hay these lands can be an important strategy during times of feed shortages, as well as deliver conservation benefits. MBP is engaging with the province about how to best utilize these lands in the future for grazing and haying. Second, in mid-September the province announced 50:50 cost-shared beneficial management practices funding through the Ag Action Manitoba Program to assist with the development of wells and dugouts. While some producers expressed a desire for feed or freight assistance, the province has not chosen to go in that direction. In June, the federal and provincial governments announced $540 million in funding for flood protection initiatives. MBP has strongly pursued the construction of outlet channels to help draw down water levels on Lake Manitoba and to allow for better management during flood events. Once complete the channels should help reduce the risk of flooding around Lake Manitoba, an area well utilized for beef production. Changes to the administration of agricultural Crown land (ACL) continue. Through Bill 35 – The Crown Lands Amendment Act (Improved Management of Community Pastures and Agricultural Crown Lands) fees or rent for leases and permits for ACL can now be calculated in one of four ways: setting out or prescribing the amount of method/formula to determine rent in regulation; having a public tender; having a public auction, or, a combination of the aforementioned methods. This legislation also allows regulations to be made around reserve bids and other terms and conditions that may apply in a public tender or public auction. MBP supports the auction approach in principle. The previous points-based allocation system was often frustrating for producers, creating confusion and leading to appeals. MBP has stated there should be no minimum prices for ACL as this could interfere with the market forces and artificially raise the price to producers. MBP is engaging with the province about how the auction process will work, as well as on other ACL matters, such as unit transfers, the rental formula for forage leases and permits, and, informed access by people wishing to enter ACL used by cattle producers. MBP’s goals is to see the most effective utilization of ACL to benefit the province’s beef industry.

MBP continues to co-chair the Livestock Predation Protection Working Group. It includes representation from Sustainable Development, Manitoba Agriculture, Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Manitoba Trappers Association and the Manitoba Sheep Association. The group submitted a report to provincial and federal ministers and officials with recommendations related to on-farm responses, building local capacity, improving support frameworks, and enhancing knowledge related to predation management. In October MBP received funding through the Ag Action Manitoba Program toward the design and development of a pilot project to reduce wildlife/livestock conflicts in Manitoba.

 

Manitoba amended its Wildlife Act to include a general prohibition on night hunting, except in specified situations with respect to aboriginal hunters. Past instances of dangerous hunting at night have placed people and livestock at risk, and damaged property. MBP has asked the province to engage all land users as regulations under these new legislative provisions are envisioned. MBP has sought clarification about when it will be legal to discharge a firearm at night, as from time to time it is necessary to humanely dispatch cattle due to illness, injury or a devastating predator attack.

 

Effective July 1, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requirement that breeding cattle and bison from Manitoba had to be tested pre-export for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) was lifted. For many years, producers in the Riding Mountain Eradication Area around Riding Mountain National Park bore a heavy cost in the yearly mustering and surveillance testing of their animals. This USDA decision recognizes the decades of hard work undertaken by MBP, producers, governments and other stakeholders on the bTB issue and is very good news for the cattle sector. In addition to the producers, MBP has worked with many other stakeholders to address this issue, including: Parks Canada, Manitoba Sustainable Development, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Manitoba Agriculture, First Nations and the Manitoba Wildlife Federation. MBP – working with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) − is seeking federal funding for ongoing initiatives at the farm level aimed at limiting livestock/wildlife interactions. Provincial government surveillance of hunter-killed wildlife samples to monitor for the presence of the disease will continue.

 

MBP thanks the CCA for helping to organize its May fly-in to Ottawa, and for its advocacy efforts on files affecting Manitoba such as bTB and funding for flood-related infrastructure, among others. MBP and CCA directors and staff met with Members of Parliament and Senators on topics such as changes to animal transportation rules, movement reporting, front of package labeling, changes to Canada’s Food Guide and trade, among others.

 

On the communications front, MBP undertook some familiar promotional activities, and pursued some new ones. MBP continued its sponsorship of the Family of the Game at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers home games. As well, MBP took part in one pre-game tail gate event where passersby were encouraged to take part in a roping activity, as well as to enter the ever popular draw for a beef dinner with two members of the Blue Bombers squad. New this year was a game day promotion held with the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team.

 

MBP continued its longstanding involvement with Great Tastes of Manitoba (GTOM), a local cooking show airing on CTV Winnipeg. MBP’s two episodes showcased the quality and versatility of beef. GTOM is also expanding its associated social media presence to get short cooking videos out to an even broader audiences. MBP will be adding a third episode of GTOM for the show’s upcoming 30th season.

 

MBP has sought to link beef with the healthy diets of athletes. To accomplish this, MBP has run a series of radio ads on a local sports talk radio show, under the campaign name “Eat Like an Athlete”. These ads have run during Winnipeg Jets and Winnipeg Blue Bomber game broadcasts, as well as with Winnipeg Goldeyes radio broadcasts on another station. This campaign also included radio ads in Brandon tied to the Brandon Wheat Kings Western Hockey League games, as well as jumbotron ads during intermissions at Wheat Kings games.

 

For more information, please visit the MBP website at www.mbbeef.ca

 

 

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