SMITHERS, B.C. — Three months into the job and David Haywood-Farmer is ready to help advance the Canadian beef business.
The newly elected president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association is no stranger to beef politics, having been involved in the British Columbia provincial organization for many years.
“It is a real opportunity and I’m honoured to do it,” he said.
A commercial cow-calf producer from west of Kamloops, he has reached that point in his life where he has time to work for the industry while his son and a business partner and his family carry on at the ranch.
While he may be preoccupied with his new leadership role, he still considers himself a full-time rancher.
“The staff in Ottawa understands how important that your home is what you are looking after first,” he said.
The ranch runs an Angus influence herd and grows about 650 acres of alfalfa for feed. His family has been in the region since 1933.
The new job gives him a chance to give something back to the industry and pursue some particular objectives like international trade. Last year Canada exported $2.4 billion worth of beef and with new agreements it can only improve.
“The biggest personal goal is to expand trade because trade is what is going to keep the flow of cattle moving forward,” he said in an interview during the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting in Smithers held May 31-June 2.
Agreements like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and NAFTA are critical for Canada.
“The file that is the most exciting is the CPTPP and if we can land that particular trade file, it is going to open up huge opportunities for beef for Canada. The U.S. has stepped back and we have to do the work in Canada to be the first six to get it ratified,” he said.
The first six governments to accept the deal get market access first.
Mexico, Japan and Australia are already poised to ratify the agreement and open markets among the 11 member states. Under the deal, lucrative beef markets like Japan will drop tariffs of 38.5 percent to nine percent. Last year Canada sold $153 million worth of beef to Japan. Other markets like Southeast Asia are smaller but in recent years have experienced triple digit growth.
He attended the formal signing of the CPTPP in Chile. Witnessing that event may have been one of the highlights of his life.
“It was pretty good for an old cowboy from Kamloops,” he said.
The future of the North American Free Trade Agreement after 25 years of good business may be cloudy. The United States is Canada’s best beef customer: 75 percent of exports go stateside. Mexico is also a valued partner.
“The NAFTA agreement for beef was great for all three nations. It worked really well and it worked in a way we all had big gains,” he said.
The beef trade agreements should remain unchanged, he added. Trade is important but a president must have a solid understanding of all the nuances of the beef business from appreciating what it takes to get a calf to market to pushing for better risk management programs.
He would like to advocate for a national cattle price insurance program and along with other producers wants to get a better understanding of what the new Canadian Agriculture Program might offer.
He wants more nimble AgriStab-ility programs that can respond sooner when cow-calf producers need assistance.
Under his tenure in office he also expects to see the new issues management division of the organization grow as the industry strives to defend its practices while offering wholesome food to the world.
Dealing with all the new issues has changed the duties of the CCA and members need to be prepared for the next curve ball.
“I try to look at it in a big way. There is the cow-calf producer, there’s the backgrounder, the grass producers, feedlot producers, finishers and then the packers and then we sell our product,”he said.
“Every one of us is a player no matter what level we are. We are all a part of the beef industry and you have to keep moving it forward,” he said.
“As a cow-calf producer I am a long way from selling beef but I can see if we don’t keep those markets open that is going to slow the economy of the beef supply chain,” he said.