With everything going on in the world – climate crises, the Ukraine invasion, sky-high food prices and fake Tim Horton’s kids’ camp news, among them – you’d think the name change of Canada’s main cattle-producing organization would mostly go unnoticed.
But that’s not the case.
Two years ago, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) embarked on a significant $875,000 rebranding exercise. Part of the effort was to review the group’s name, based on its implication that cattle producers are men.
They’re not. The vast majority of cattle farms and ranches in Canada are family operations, and women play a huge role on them.
Women are also beef consumers, and society has a distaste for exclusivity.
The organization’s name, which had been around since the 1930s, was terribly dated, and most members knew it. During the rebranding initiative a few kicked back against a gender-neutral name change, calling it liberal b.s.
But the writing was on the wall. The organization’s president at the time, Bob Lowe, said that if changing the name meant maintaining relevancy, that’s what the group would do.
And earlier this month, that’s what it did. It dropped “mens” from Cattlemens and kept the rest (which also gave it the luxury of keeping the industry-familiar CCA acronym). It announced the change on its website July 7, under the headline “Canadian Cattle Association launches with new brand identity.”
The organization said the rebranding was about more than the name. For example, it also introduced a new logo, created “with inspiration by key elements of importance to the organization: our country, our cattle, and our environment,” it said. Further, it claimed the logo, visual identity and positioning (i.e., name change) “reaffirms CCA’s commitment to supporting communities, embracing innovation and contributing to the overall sustainability of Canada’s food system.”
Understandably, the agricultural media was focussed on the change in an industry-standard name that had lasted some 90 years, and was instantly identifiable in farm circles across the country.
“CCA changes name to recognize role women play in industry, says president,” read the headline in Glacier Farm Media’s cattle website. The story quoted current CCA president Reg Schellenberg explaining that the revised name “is more inclusive of the many people and organizations involved in bringing beef from pasture to plate in Canada.”
Indeed, it is. And now, the CCA can move on.
The truth is that CCA is an excellent organization that’s working hard with other beef organizations to paint a true picture of cattle production in Canada. It’s taken Canadians’ pulse on sustainability and knows that pastured livestock’s support of grasslands and carbon sequestration is one of agriculture’s top environmental stories.
True, it’s a lobby organization for beef producers, and from it we should expect to hear the sunny side of beef production.
But the CCA has a track record of, as it says, building on generations of industry-wide ecological practices, which include preserving biodiversity, restoring Canada’s wetlands, upcycling resources, protecting endangered species and providing the majority of wildlife habitat on food-producing lands.
That’s the real work of cattle producers, regardless of gender. Good on you, CCA.