It was gratifying to see the articles in the June 10, 2010 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator. However, the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association was dismayed the editorial indicated industry associations have ignored producers. The association is writing to enlighten the Co-operator and its readers on the activities of the MCPA regarding TB and the Riding Mountain Eradication Ecosystem.
The issue of TB is, has, and will continue to be one of the top priorities the MCPA works upon until such time as the disease is eradicated.
To say that we are ignoring producers and are not working on trying to solve the real problems and issues is simply not true.
It is because of the MCPA’s consistent lobbying efforts that the provincial vets and CFIA agreed to a program giving producers with major herd health issues the ability to send some of their sick cattle to the provincial lab for testing.
This is not a cheap process, but is available at no charge for these producers. It is up to the individual producer to use this program; we cannot force producers to go through the process to find out what is wrong with their cattle.
The MCPA recognizes the hardships and economic challenges producers face because of testing. When herds are quarantined, producers incur huge marketing losses because they are unable to market their cattle when the prices are strong. This puts these producers at a huge disadvantage. The MCPA has been lobbying to have these losses recognized through a program such as AgriRecovery (which was offered to producers in B. C.) to offset the cost of feeding quarantined cattle and losses due to marketing inflexibility.
The MCPA has lobbied for a program since 2008 to compensate producers who face abortions or losses not covered under the purchase program through AgriStability. Federal and provincial governments have not replied. We fully recognize the stress testing places on livestock. Cows that have already been through the chute become wary of being handled, which creates issues for good management practices.
The MCPA, working with CCA, asked Minister Ritz to form a senior level working group to develop and implement a strategic eradication plan with set timelines and deadlines at the Canadian Cattlemen’s meeting last August in Regina.
The MCPA is monitoring the progress of this working group and it will be the MCPA who will judge the program. Cattle producers are the only ones at the table whose livelihood depends on this disease being eradicated.
MCPA also represents the industry when government agencies report on activities, timelines and plans for the year. It should be noted that out of all stakeholders, only cattle producers have consistently met the target numbers for testing.
Testing continues because there is a reservoir of disease in the wildlife. The role of the MCPA is to fight for the producers to demand the other stakeholders fulfil their responsibilities by whatever means are necessary.
It is the MCPA who defends producers when government agencies and ministers speak about producers not closing barrier fences. It is the MCPA who explains to government agencies that the elk and deer are moving farther because of the barrier fences.
The MCPA, as the voice of the industry, continually challenges governments to ensure the eradication measures are met.
MCPA will continue to work towards an end to testing of cattle, eradication of the disease, and for producers to be treated fairly.
Jay Fox President Manitoba Cattle Producers Association
Please forward letters to Manitoba Co-operator, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, R3H 0H1 or Fax: 204-954-1422 or email: [email protected](subject: To the editor)