With six of the 16 resolutions coming out of Manitoba Beef Producers’ fall district meetings asking members to support the proposed National Checkoff increase to $2.50 per marketed head, it was easily the biggest item up for discussion during the association’s February annual general meeting at Brandon.
“It was a big decision and after a lot of discussion, I’d say by the show of hands that 98 per cent were in favour,” says Heinz Reimer of Steinbach, who was returned for his third year as president.
Of note was the packed house with a record number of producers of all ages and a sold-out trade show, making the 37th annual meeting a huge success and one for the books.
A resolution to look into the possibility of compiling a history of the association while the early generation can contribute insights received full support and is bound to add a lighthearted element to the upcoming year.
Members also called on their provincial organization to continue advocacy efforts on standing files, such as predation, water management and Crown land leases, and brought some new issues to the table.
MBP will ask the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association to work with the Canadian Meat Council to ensure that all federally and provincially inspected processing plants provide carcass data to the Beef InfoXchange System.
To put beef producers on an equal footing with the grain sector, members carried a resolution to lobby the federal government to allow livestock producers to defer income for tax purposes on the sale of all classes of cattle. They also want to see changes made to the Advance Payments Program to raise the advance limit so that mixed farms are not penalized. Currently, mixed farms are eligible for advances of up to $400,000, the same as straight grain producers and livestock operations.
On the provincial front, the producers supported a resolution calling for MBP to request that all political parties participating in the April provincial election clearly describe the areas of rural Manitoba where they deem the dangerous practice of night lighting to be an acceptable and safe hunting practice.
The board was also given direction to lobby for a change in the trapping season for beavers and wolves from restricted to open on occupied agricultural lands, and a producer-stakeholder board to regulate the operation of the Portage Diversion on the Assiniboine River.
A resolution from the floor asked the MBP to stay on top of any discussions on the future of the Manitoba Association of Community Pastures, which is currently operated as a pilot program.
MBP led the campaign to establish an association of patrons to work with the provincial government in setting up alternative management for the former federal community pastures in Manitoba.
Reimer says the MBP is still in the process of hiring a general manager to replace Melinda German who moved to Calgary on March 1 to become the first general manager of the National Checkoff Agency.
The group extended its appreciation to German and retiring director and treasurer Theresa Zuk, who has reached the six-year term limit representing District 10.
A highlight of the year gone by was the startup of three applied-research sites in the Brandon area under the Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiatives (MBFI) program. Some of the demonstration projects got underway last year; 55 cows purchased for the program will start calving in May, and construction of a building to house the handling system and office is underway.
Initially the projects will focus on improving beef and grassland management, feed efficiency and herd health, as determined by an industry-led committee headed up by MBP’s vice-president, Ramona Blyth of MacGregor.
MBFI is a collaborative effort by MBP, the Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association, Ducks Unlimited Canada and Manitoba Agriculture. It took flight with the announcement at last year’s annual meeting that $3.1 million in Growing Forward 2 funds would be made available over three years for new beef and forage research and demonstration farms. MBP provides an annual $50,000 cash donation along with in-kind support worth $22,000 per year.
This year McDonald’s Canada announced it will partner with MBFI and provide $25,000 for an outreach tour event for producers to highlight the work being done at the research sites.