Alberta Beef Producers marks its 50th anniversary

Associations: News Roundup from the October 2019 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

A belated happy birthday to the Alberta Beef Producers, which turned 50 in September.

In the 1960s, Alberta’s cattle producers felt they needed a stronger voice in Edmonton and Ottawa. Five organizations, including Western Stock Growers, Alberta Dairymen Association, Farmers Union of Alberta, Alberta Federation of Agriculture, and the Alberta Cattle Breeders Association, asked the federal government to form a cattle commission.

The government responded by appointing a member from each organization to form the commission, originally called the Alberta Cattle Commission. Original members included William Boake (Alberta Cattle Breeders Association), Harry Gordon (Farmer’s Union of Alberta), Ian McDonald (Alberta Federation of Agriculture), Frank Gattey (Western Stock Growers Association) and Terry Bocock (Alberta Dairymen Association). The commission held its first meeting on September 3, 1969.

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The Alberta Cattle Commission weighed in on its fair share of political and policy issues over the last five decades, notably the Crow Rate(former general manager Chris Mills was honoured for his stand against the Crow at the organization’s AGM in 1996).

“In the 50 years of our existence, the issues our organization has addressed on behalf of cattle and beef producers have varied widely. However, the overall challenges producers face in maintaining sustainable and competitive operations have been relatively constant,” said Rich Smith, Alberta Beef Producers executive director in a release. “Producers and ABP continue to deal with retaining access to land and water, government policies, improving production efficiency, consumer perceptions of beef, and public pressure related to animal welfare, the environment, and food safety.”

Today the organization, renamed the Alberta Beef Producers in 2002, remains focused on much of its original mandate. However, the poor voter turnout for 2018’s provincial check-off plebiscite has spurred the organization to focus on communicating with not only policy-makers and consumers, but also its own members, Alexis Kienlen of the Alberta Farmer Express reports.

Alberta Beef Producers is also considering changing the way members choose delegates, Kienlen writes. Currently, the organization has nine zones, with a half-dozen delegates each, totalling about 50 delegates. Chair Charlie Christie says the organization is looking at how to choose the best people, no matter which zone they live in.

Christie adds that they want to get the information out and gather input before making any decisions. A possible change to delegate selection is one topic slated for discussion at this year’s fall meetings.

The Alberta Beef Producers also plans to work more closely with both the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association. Christie tells Kienlen they want to make sure both provincial groups are at the table when they go to government.

“A lot of our issues are very similar. We are definitely stronger with one voice for our industry, so we hope to build on that relationship.”

The Alberta Beef Producers fall meetings are now underway. For the full schedule, visit the Alberta Beef Producers website.

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