The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) has been hard at work representing Canadian beef on the international stage this year.

Executive Vice President of the CCA, Dennis Laycraft, says each trade agreement adds value to Canada's beef industry, but NAFTA is the most important trade deal for Canadian cattle producers.

"There's a lot of integration between Canada and the U.S., and we have a good trade with Mexico in beef products, but 70 per cent of our exports go to the U.S., and virtually all of our live cattle exports go there."

Laycraft says they were able to get pretty involved on the trade side this year, which included travelling to the Trans-Pacific-Partnership meetings.

"As we move to Japan, we certainly see an enormous opportunity there if we're able to reduce tariffs from 38.5 per cent all the way down to 9 per cent. We believe we would be in a pretty strong position to export high-quality products there that are a very strong price."

When reflecting on cattle prices, Laycraft says, as we moved through 2017, prices clearly improved.

"The fall run turned out to be a pretty strong price for the cow-calf sector, which was clearly needed as we begin to grow the herd and look forward to some of the opportunities to export more product around the world."

Laycraft says as far as feedlots, the first half of the year they posted some strong returns, but returns softened a bit in the second half of 2017.

He says they're hearing general optimism for 2018 south of the border.

On the research side of the Association, they saw exceptional work in 2017, Laycraft says.

"Everything from things on feed efficiency, and we've been able to demonstrate as a result of improvements in that area that, you know, over the last 20 years we've reduced our carbon footprint in Canada by around 15 per cent. We continue to do work on the food safety side which is ongoing, and on the genetic side, there's continuing work there."