Canada to begin collecting levy on imported cattle, beef

Aug 2, 2013

The Farm Products Council of Canada last week amended one of the country’s market development orders to include an import levy on beef cattle, beef and beef products. The import levy will treat importers in the same way as Canadian cattle and beef purchasers, all paying the equivalent of C$1 per head of cattle.

Canada Beef and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz made the announcement to amend the Beef Cattle Research, Market Development and Promotion Levies Order to include the import levy.

Canada Beef is mandated to promote the marketing and production of beef cattle, beef and beef products for the purposes of interprovincial, export and import trade. In order to support its business plan, Canada Beef is empowered by the Farm Products Agencies Act to impose levies or charges on persons engaged in the importation of beef cattle, beef or beef products into Canada.

“These regulations give Canada Beef the right to collect a levy on imports of beef cattle, beef and beef products, something that has not been done before on other agricultural products coming into Canada,” says Canada Beef Chairman Chuck Maclean. “This is a significant step forward for not only the beef industry but for the Canadian agriculture sector.”

The levy allows for an equitable treatment between domestic beef producers and beef importers. Agriculture and Agri-food Canada has worked very hard with Canada Beef to obtain the information from Canadian Border Services to enable collection of the levy. Collection of the levy is estimated to be worth between C$600,000 and C$800,000 annually, depending on market conditions, and the organization hopes to be collecting the levy as early as September 2013.

The funds that result from the import levy can be further leveraged with industry investment, and would create a significant increase to the funding of marketing, promotion and research for the beef industry. According to Evaluating the Economic Benefits from the Canadian Beef Check-Off, a study completed in 2010 by Professor John Cranfield of the University of Guelph, dollars invested in research and marketing for the Canadian beef sector brought a return on investment of 9:1 for the beef industry.

“Throughout this process, the Farm Products Council of Canada and the minister of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada have been supportive and of great assistance in helping to achieve Canada Beef’s goal of enacting the import levy,” says MacLean. “After many years of work, the industry has finally accomplished the goal of being able to collect the national levy on imports.”

Canada Beef is the cattle producer-funded and run organization responsible for domestic and international beef and veal market development. It has offices in Canada, Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and South Korea. Canada Beef works to foster loyalty to the Canadian beef brand and build strong relationships with trade customers and partners. These efforts increase demand for Canadian beef and the value producers receive for their cattle.

Nowhere in the announcement was there any mention of the ongoing dispute between Canada and the U.S. regarding U.S. country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements. Canada, along with Mexico, has said that it is preparing to bring the issue before a World Trade Organization panel as the first step in seeking permission to retaliate against the COOL regime. The announcement of a new import levy on cattle, beef and beef products is believed to be separate from any authorized retaliation plan. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor