Beef network takes step forward

The network is intended to link and unify genetic research and data to improve beef genetics and advance the adoption of genetic technology. | File photo

The Canadian Beef Improvement Network is moving closer to becoming operational.

An executive committee has been named to guide its establishment and work is underway to determine the governance and operational models.

The beef industry has been discussing the idea for years. The network is intended to link and unify genetic research and data to improve beef genetics and advance the adoption of genetic technology.

It is proceeding under the authority of the Canadian Beef Breeds Council board until it is established. CBBC president David Sibbald is chair of the inaugural executive.

Sandy Russell, director of business development for CBIN, said the intent is for the network to operate as a stand-alone entity.

Funding from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and four major breed organizations — Angus, Charolais, Hereford and Simmental — is allowing work to proceed.

That collaboration was a big step toward making a long-held idea a reality.

Russell said CBIN is focusing on three pillars right now.

The first is to standardize and unify the way genetic information is captured and communicated within the industry.

“We know that there’s some variations there,” Russell said. “The breeds have recognized that is not to their advantage or to the advantage of the commercial industry.”

The second is genetic literacy to help the entire industry from seedstock to retail understand what genetics can and can’t do, she said.

“That goes back to we’ve had EPDs for how long and they don’t translate well for the commercial producer,” she said.

The third area is to link research and the industry. Russell said there is money available and research underway, along with innovative opportunities in technology but the sometimes fragmented industry needs a more strategic approach. The network would also ensure that duplication isn’t occurring.

CBIN obtained some funding from the Beef Cattle Research Council and began a project April 1. Russell said it is a small value proposition project that looks at why genetic information should matter to the commercial cattle producer.

“We’re also working to bring together collaboration amongst the breeds and amongst the commercial industry to kind of unlock that genetic information value,” she said.

The other board members are: Cherie Copithorne-Barnes, Jeffrey Fitzpatrick-Stilwell, Stephen Hughes, Myles Immerkar, Dr. Kee Jim, Michael Latimer, Virgil Lowe, Kim McConnell, Dr. Stephen Miller and Brian Van Doormaal.

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