For three days in early December Alberta Beef Producers’ (ABP) delegates debated resolutions passed at their district fall meetings related to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), carbon tax and sequestration, industry funding and collaboration, and electoral structure. “The resolutions that were carried will provide clear direction to ABP as we move into 2017,” said Rich Smith, ABP executive director.
One resolution that came up through the district meetings called on the ABP to continue lobbying for some form of bridge financing to help the owners of herds under quarantine for TB in southeastern Alberta.
By the time the delegates had a chance to support this motion, Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay and Alberta Minister Oneil Carlier had already promised federal/provincial AgriRecovery payments would be made available to help out the owners of quarantined herds in Alberta.
By December 7, 26,000 head were under quarantine on approximately 50 premises, all in southeast Alberta except for five in southwest Saskatchewan.
Delegations from Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) had flown to Ottawa to testify to the seriousness of the situation before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and any MP who would see them in the days leading up to the Alberta meeting.
The government said compensation teams were meeting with eligible producers to expedite their claims. The program being fleshed out on the fly is to include funds for feeding and water infrastructure, feed, transportation, cleaning and disinfection, as well as interest on loans taken out due to the quarantine.
Although it hardly required a vote the ABP also directed its board to continue lobbying the new NDP government to restore its non-refundable $2 provincial checkoff.
They predictably voted down a second motion calling for the ABP to reject the $1.50 increase in the mandatory national checkoff until the provincial levy is once again made non-refundable.
The producers also wanted to see 30 cents of the national $1/head levy collected in Alberta directed to the Beef Cattle Research Council until such time as the national checkoff is raised to $2.50 per head.
Canadian Beef Checkoff Agency general manager Melinda German said the higher checkoff could appear in some provinces as early as January or February, but most might not start up until April. Eight of the nine provincial cattle organizations have endorsed the plan, with Ontario the only holdout. Beef Farmers of Onario’s annual meeting is set for February 22-23.
The rules and regulations governing the national checkoff are slightly different in each province and the national agency was still working on agreements with some of the provinces last month.
In other votes the delegates supported establishing a provincial program to pay agriculture producers for carbon sequestration that occurs on their land; encourage the CCA to support the efforts of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in lobbying the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to improve the transparency and responsiveness of the live and fed cattle futures markets.
The newly elected 2017 board of directors are: Howard Bekkering, Vauxhall; Fred Lozeman, Claresholm; Chris Israelson, Didsbury; Tim Smith, Coronation; Kelly Fraser, Red Deer County; Tim Sekura, Rocky Rapids; Colin Campbell, Bon Accord; George L’Heureux, Lac La Biche; John McArthur, Fairview; Bob Lowe, Nanton; Roland Cailliau, Valleyview; Garth Porteous, Bow Island; Brad Osadczuk, Jenner; Ken Stanley, Westlock; Penny Patton, Westlock and Bryan Thiessen, Strathmore.