Ontario beef takes centre stage in London, ON

This August, for the first time ever, the annual Canadian Beef Industry Conference was held in London, Ontario. It’s the first time the conference was held outside of Calgary, Alberta – home of ‘Canadian Beef’. The conference is put on by the Beef Cattle Research Council, Canada Beef, Canadian Beef Breeds Council, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, and the National Cattle Feeders Association. So, why is this a big deal? While the beef industry is tied together through a multitude of national organizations, there exist unique challenges and preferences by province – and no shortage of competition. Whereas the vast majority of the country’s beef herd lives in the Western provinces, the largest beef market domestically is here in Ontario.

DID YOU KNOW? There are 59,784 farms and ranches raising +12 million cattle in Canada. Just over 275,000 of those are in Ontario.

Panel discussions, speakers and sessions at the conference addressed national issues such as best practices in animal welfare, advances in pasture management techniques and sustainability. There was also plenty of discussion about the growing popularity of alternative proteins and the not-unrelated increase in misinformation and anti-agriculture sentiment in both social and mainstream media. IMG_20160516_071719 The conference also hosted creative scientist and food futurist Dr. Irwin Adam and popular food social scientist Dr. Sylvain Charlebois – who spoke at Terroir 2018 in Toronto. Both speakers engaged the audience in discussions on these questions: what is the public perception, why, how do we spread our stories, educate, address the public’s concerns and meet their demands for our products? Moving forward, the CBIC plans to alternate between holding the Conference in the West and in the East. We talked to one of our Feast On Preferred Purveyors, Artisan Farms, on what that means.
“We need to better represent the beef market to the industry. Let’s work on connecting over our love of food, educating the public about what we really do, and closing the gap between consumer and producer. These are the ways we can keep our food production in the hands of local, caring family farms.”
That contrast within the national industry is a macro representation of what’s happening everywhere in the country – a widening gap between urban consumer and the rural producers of their food.
We’re excited to see Ontario cattle farmers discussing the issue on a national level.
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