Sustainable Livestock Community

Calgary, January 12, 2018


View Highlights Below

Date: Date: January 12, 2018
Location: Calgary, AB
Venue: Alberta Beef Producers Boardroom
165, 6815 8th Street NE

SASC seeked input through a series of community engagement sessions from partners in agriculture innovation.

The foundational principle of the Smart Agri-Food Super Cluster is to foster collaboration amongst agriculture communities by connecting technologies through Smart Agri-Food “nodes” which will be located across the country.

A discussion was held to discussion how the Smart Agri-Food Super Cluster will address the issues of priority for the Canadian livestock sector.

This day highlighted four livestock initiatives proposed in the Smart Agri-Food Super Cluster. Opportunities were identified to refine and build upon initial concepts within the SASC moving forward, with a focus on improving supply chain coordination, accelerating on-farm innovation adoption, supporting trade growth and economic development, and reaching sustainability goals.

Hosted By:

Andrea Brocklebank, BCRC Executive Director, SASC Transition Board
Bryan Walton, NCFA CEO, SASC Transition Board
Stuart Cullum, President Olds College, SASC Transition Board
Rob Davies, Interim CEO, SASC Transition Board

January 12, 2018 Agenda

9:30 – 9:45 Welcome, Overview & IntroductionsStuart Cullum
9:45 – 10:10Why the Smart Agri-Food Super Cluster?
Participants earned about our community and node approach for fostering agriculture growth.
Rob Davies - SASC CEO
10:10 – 10:30 (Concept #1)Innovation & Technology Adoption Accelerator
Canadian beef producers are increasingly pressured to improve productivity and competitiveness of their operations, yet wide-spread adoption of beneficial innovations is often very slow. Fragmented technology transfer processes create further challenges. The proposed initiative is focused on innovative means to increase and accelerate adoption rates of beneficial technologies and practices; supporting technology accelerators and producer engagement to ensure successful on-farm implementation.
Tracy Herbert/Andrea Brocklebank
10:30 – 11:00Group Discussion – Shared how support from the SASC will improve industry uptake of beneficial innovations. See key learnings below.Stuart Cullum
11:00 – 11:20 (Concept #2)Canadian Beef Improvement Network (CBIN)
Genetics, as a tool to enhance the overall efficiency of the beef industry, is not being utilised and delivered to its full potential even though it can increase production efficiency, reduce the environmental footprint, and contribute positively to product quality and sustainability. The CBIN is focused on improving industry uptake of genetic improvement through data management, analysis, and technology transfer and extension.
Michael Latimer/John Crowley
11:20 – 11:40Group Discussion – Shared how SASC will support genetic improvement and advancement to support market and productivity gains. See key learnings below.Stuart Cullum
11:40 – 12:00Group Discussion – Shared other needs to be focused on to drive on-farm adoption of innovations to accelerate productivity, sustainability, and meeting market demands. See key learnings below.Stuart Cullum
12:00 – 12:45Lunch and Networking
12:45pm – 1:00pm (Concept #3)Export Market Development Discussions
Growing global protein demand provides an important opportunity for the Canadian beef industry. Increasing affluence in markets such as China support the creation of luxury food brands. The proposed concept looks to pursue the development of a luxury Canadian beef brand in China; identifying critical attributes, demonstrating the use of DNA technologies to authenticate origin, demonstrating the use of a secured centralized data management system using block chain technology to authenticate transactions.
Hubert Lau
1:00 pm – 1:45pmGroup Discussion – Shared how SASC supports export market development and the differentiation of Canadian products. Explored other areas SASC could play a role to support supply chains, processors, and distributors and overall market growth. See key learnings below.Stuart Cullum
1:45 – 2:15 (Concept #4)Beef Supply Chain Accelerator (BSCA)
Within the Canadian beef supply chain, supply chain coordination is costly and fragmented. The Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration (CBSA) pilot is a current initiative to track cattle and beef throughout a supply chain that is providing valuable information as to the necessary investments and technologies required to link producers with multiple end-users while minimizing transaction costs. Through the SASC the opportunity exists to build upon the pilot; implementing infrastructure and technology to move beyond a pilot; engaging additional supply chain stakeholders and ensuring infrastructure is adequate to meet market demands for commercial volumes.
Jim Smolik
2:15 – 2:45Group Discussion – Shared thoughts on broad-based industry involvement in developing infrastructure to support supply chain coordination to meet end-user demands. See key learnings below.Stuart Cullum
2:45 – 3:00Smart Agri-Food Super Cluster – Next Steps & Closing MessageBryan Walton

Smart Agri-Food Supercluster (SASC) - Calgary, January 12, 2018

Discussion Highlights

Group Discussion – How best can support from the SASC improve industry uptake of beneficial innovations?

Comments ;

  • Integrated extension needed for consistency in messaging; a single voice with training for everyone. Also need to speed up the dissemination of research results

  • People need to see tangible benefits in a clear picture – not convoluted.

  • Demonstration at scale – needs to be seen by producers. Not lab or small research farm. A variety of sizes needed to reflect all farm sizes. Social license reduces return to some technology, so needs to make sense for the producer. Cow/calf has other considerations: part-time, labour, size, trade-offs. Develop a regional co-op “experimental” or “pilot” farm where new innovations are explored and “members” get the IP and results of these farms.

  • Need commercial data, applicability. Feedlots tend to adopt quickly if you make a good argument.

  • Farmers learn from each other – they see early adopters as pilot herd. Need peer to peer learning.

  • How is innovation viewed by consumers? There can be push back on innovation that discourages innovation and adoption by producers. Demand for regionalized supply growing.

  • Locations are regional. Hence, cost of production data needs to be local.

  • Focus on industry-wide innovations that can be non-competitive.

  • How do we deal with commercialization?

  • Need to widen our scope beyond ag.

  • Identify the “salesmen” of new concepts and motivate them properly

  • Quick to fail → take small bites, try them, and move

  • Libraries created a library system linking libraries together globally. . . look at other industries to solve our problems.

Group Discussion – How can SASC support genetic improvement and advancement to support market and productivity gains?

Comments ;

  • Creating/Supporting common platforms – there is excellent technology, a lot of data being collected that needs to be integrated across multiple systems.

  • How often is Canada the innovator and the last to adopt (competitors are using) e.g. GrowSafe

  • Scarcity mentality that prevents adoption, break down walls to have more collaboration and grow the pie. This can be done through exporting markets that provide the demand pull.

  • Data collection - How to overcome the reliance on a large number of producers for small amounts of data to support the bigger whole. Simplify entry - weigh scales or farm management groups to upload so it is simple and useful vs. garbage data. Need to make input of data profitable.

  • Synergy; new players at the SASC table – tech enablers (they have the solutions)

  • Filter Approach – multiple business models, stream benefits up to producers. Needs to be based in lowering costs and increasing profit

  • Tech isn’t computers always, it is ALL innovation. BIXS experience says you need excitement NOT just new tech.

Group Discussion – What else needs to be focused on to drive on-farm adoption of innovations to accelerate productivity, sustainability, and meeting market demands?


  • Need to connect technology adoption to economics. Sustainability is about money as much as environment. How do I reduce my cost of production? And how do I increase my profitability? Can have higher costs with much higher profitability! Particularly with technology investment.

  • Building an innovative ecosystem - Accelerating an existing narrative about innovation in Agri-Food. Not only about making new “innovation”. it’s not just data.

  • Need to make input of data profitable

  • Beef industry innovation is driven by dollars and innovation goes beyond data.

  • With Innovation there needs to be coordinated effort to communicate the value to consumers.

  • Misinformation fills the void if the truth is not well communicated.

Group Discussion – How can SASC support export market development and the differentiation of Canadian products? What other areas could SASC play a role to support supply chains, processors, and distributors and overall market growth?

Comments ;

  • It’s not just about market share, it’s about finding the share of the market that’s profitable.

  • Need to have the right connections at the right level. Partner with an entire city the size of Canada. Story-telling is so important in a market like China. CDN Beef focuses on the technical so much. Need to differentiate yourself. High value is about perception, brands and status value.

  • Credibility – need to be able to back up your claim (ie. with BIXS), need to be authentic.

  • Make beef the example to use for an entire line of agricultural products from Canada, including hides for high end hand bags.

  • Looking for participants, clear on value proposition for everyone.

Group Discussion – What are your thoughts on broad-based industry involvement in developing infrastructure to support supply chain coordination to meet end-user demands?

  • How to not dilute the term “sustainability”; need to be consistent with usage of the word for everyone in the value chain. There is work to get verified – but need to show value and a reason for doing it.

  • Have to be careful we don’t have ‘good’ or ‘bad’ beef, just different value propositions.

  • Yes there are differences with the Grains Roundtable and their approach but it is also coming full circle so that producers have a payback.

  • A test of the validity of the Sustainable Beef pilot to see how many producers are signed up – but also aligning people already signed up. Concerns raised about these type of assurance programs becoming table stakes. Ensuring we are supporting commercial production and not attacking or diluting it.

  • Data – utilization, analysis, availability
    Industry shared infrastructure is not the case in beef because of competition. But are there reasons and situations within SASC where it makes sense.

  • Can we look at other industries to learn about the information flow side?