Helping Canada’s Beef Industry Meet Consumers’ Demands for a Sustainable Product

Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Canada, announced nearly $200,000 in support of their Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) program and remote auditing during the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) directors meeting in Ottawa last week. 

The VBP+ program is a voluntary certification program administered by the CCA to certify that beef cattle operations meet high standards for food safety, animal care and environmental stewardship.

“Canadian cattle producers care for their animals and our environment. Canada’s beef industry, through the leadership of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and it’s Verified Beef Production Plus program, is stepping up to meet the demands of consumers for food made to the highest standards for safety, animal care and environmental stewardship. This investment will help give more cattle producers access to this indispensable program and strengthen their relationship with consumers,” 

said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. 

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, established in 1932, is a not-for-profit national association incorporated under the Canada Corporations Act representing the interests of Canada’s 60,000 beef farms. This association provides leadership for the Canadian beef cattle industry, including assisting in its development and adaptation to new ideas and technologies.

The funding will go towards a web portal and an app for remote audits, which will make it easier for cattle producers to access the VBP+ program. The budget announced last week brings the total Government of Canada investment into VBP+ and its environmental component, the Certified Sustainable Beef Framework, to $1.9 million.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) is a five-year, $3-billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the agriculture and agri-food sector.

The funding announced is through the federally-delivered AgriAssurance Program: National Industry Association component under the CAP. This program helps the industry develop and adopt systems, standards and tools to support quality, health and safety claims about Canadian agricultural and agri-food products. 

“VBP+ is one of the tools beef producers can use to ensure consumer trust and help our industry meet ambitious national strategy goals, which will help us meet beef demand well into the future. Increasing efficiency in certification infrastructure and delivery enables VBP+ to keep producer costs reasonable while on market opportunities,”

said Bob Lowe, President, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

With over 1.6 million cattle already under the management of certified VBP+ operations in Canada, this announcement will help more cattle producers meet market demands for sustainably raised beef. Canada’s livestock producers and processors have built a strong reputation for delivering high-quality, safe and delicious meat. As shoppers in Canada and worldwide increasingly look in grocery store aisles for sustainable and humane food options that ensure animal well-being, it is more important than ever to raise awareness of the beef industry’s commitment to animal care, biosecurity and environmental stewardship practices.

Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) is a voluntary, market-oriented, producer managed forward-looking program enabling Canada’s beef industry to anticipate and meet emerging and growing demands for beef production systems throughout the Canadian beef value chain.

The Certified Sustainable Beef Framework provides a tool to certify farms, ranches and processing facilities against sustainability standards, supports retail and foodservice companies to meet sustainable sourcing commitments, and provides sustainability messaging for consumers through marketing labels and claims enabling beef purchasing from Certified Operations.

Beef production contributes approximately $21.8 billion to Canada’s GDP (2018-2020 Statistics Canada/Canfax averages). In 2020, Canada exported 425 million kilograms of beef to international markets, valued at $3.26 billion.