Monday, June 13, 2011

Bringing Canada to the YCC

After a whirlwind week across the continent, I've made it home from Washington DC feeling more inspired than ever.

I told you how I scored the opportunity of a lifetime here, and gave you a quick update on the trip here, but as promised, I want to tell you exactly what an experience like this means to someone like me.

What is YCC? The individuals I met at the Young Cattlemen's Conference were between the ages of 25 and 50 from all over the United States. It's a pretty prestigious thing to attend YCC- participants were nominated by their state associations and had pay a hefty fee or seek sponsorship to be involved in the tour. The group took in three locations across the US (Denver, Chicago, and DC), taking in feedlots, processing plants, Chicago Board of Trade & OSI, Inc., and a day meeting with congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill. 

The 2011 YCC group. Copyright All rights reserved by Beltway Beef

Many of the YCC members were established ag and beef businesspeople, primary producers, and policy professionals. It's more than refreshing to meet people who share my passionate love for cattle and the international business of "farm-to-fork."

The Presentation. On Thursday, Fawn and I had the privilege of speaking at the NCBA Young Cattlemen's Conference about the Canadian beef industry and trade between Canada and the US. What I was expecting was a speaking engagement in which I would have to be over prepared for- knowing how to answer difficult questions and have challenging conversations with young producers. I did. What I wasn't expecting was to make connections around the globe, gain insight to international issues, and become completely inspired all over again by the industry I love. I did that too.

Our presentation gave an overview of Canadian agriculture, our trade relations and history with the United States, and programs of interest like our national traceability and Cattlemen's Young Leaders. Shoot me a comment if you'd like to see the presentation.

Million Dollar Questions. At the end of our presentation, we opened the floor to questions from the YCC members. Traceability was the greatest concern. Traceability is the system of monitoring where a beef animal has been between birth and slaughter, with the ultimate goal of making beef more appealing to export markets and consumers. It means no one can look at a steak and say, "You don't know where that's been."

The questions surprised me. They all wanted to know how Canada's national traceability system came to be, and what America needs to do to work towards one. It was clear that the main concern is opening reluctant markets who are still hesitant to import beef from countries with a history of BSE cases. The Canadian system is mandatory, and Americans want to know if they could ever implement one. This question isn't easy to answer, but the long and short of it is that the American beef industry will need to decide if the costs of a national traceability system (eartags, equipment, setting up a database) would outweigh the benefits of access to more foreign markets.

YCC in DC. We were also able to sit in on a YCC alumni panel of prefessionals working in the food industry, and a Five Nations panel composed of an Embassy representative from Canada, USA, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand. One of the highlights for Fawn and I was sitting in a DC sports bar visiting with the Canadian, NZ, and Australian Embassy diplomats discussing their careers and foreign trade. We also took part in the NCBA Political Action Committee fundraiser, a live auction, as the "Vana Whites" for the auction items.
Fawn displaying an auction item
Bottom Line. Looking around the room at a sea of cowboy hats, I feel pretty at home. I also feel honored to associate with such industrious people who will, without a doubt, be on the front lines of the beef industry in just a few years. It makes me excited to be involved in this rapidly growing industry, and even more excited that my specific interest, communicating agriculture, is one of the top issues cattlemen are talking about.

A friend asked me why I would fly across the continent for a twenty minute speech. Well, I didn't. I flew across the continent to share my passion, and to hear from others about what they're doing to move the beef industry forward. I flew across the continent to make invaluable contacts and have insightful conversations about issues that are important to me. I always come away from conferences and events like this one with a strong reminder of why I do what I do, and an excitement to carry what I learned into my current and future involvement in agriculture.

I feel honored to have been asked to represent the Canadian cattle industry, and beyond appreciative of the opportunity. Thanks to the Canadian Embassy, Canadian Cattlemen's Association, and the national Cattlemen's beef Association for making this experience possible for me. I hope to keep in touch with all of the great people I met.

If you were at YCC or are an alumni, please leave a comment! I`d love to hear how the experience impacted you.


  1. So glad you got to take part in this Rosie. YCC is an amazing program and I the people that you met there will be an excellent network for you to call upon in the future.

  2. Thank you for traveling to make the presentation in DC, Rosie. It was an absolute pleasure to meet you & Fawn, and to learn more about the Canadian Beef Industry. Glad you were able to stick around for the rest of the day.
    You asked to share the impact of YCC, frankly I'm still wrapping my head around it. If I only had one word it would certainly be "Inspiring". From beginning to end, each day it was inspiring to see the commitment of the people in different facets of our Beef Industry. A huge thank you to NCBA for this opportunity and to American National CattleWomen for nominating me to attend.
    YCC may be one of the adventures in life that can never be fully explained, only experienced!
    Desta Crawford

  3. Kudos Rosie! Thanks for representing the industry so well!

  4. It really is Crystal, I can only imagine what I could have learned had I taken part in the full tour.

    Desta, it was so great to meet you! The YCC participants were all such amazing people, I can see why each of you were nominated and selected to go. I'm glad you took so much out of it, and we were more than happy to join you for a short time! Good luck advocating and recovering from the YCC "hangover" :)

    Thanks Nanita! Amazing what doors CYL has opened!