Alberta Cattle Feeders approve New Era agreement

Associations: News Roundup from the April 2018 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

The Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association will partner with Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) on a proposed new breakdown of the provincial producer check-off, with negotiations to continue throughout 2018.

This proposal, known as the New Era Beef Industry (NEBI) agreement, was one of the main issues discussed at the ACFA’s recent annual general meeting held in Red Deer, Alta.

The roots of this proposal came from the 2017 AGM, when a resolution was approved to continue discussions with ABP regarding the sharing and governance of Alberta’s $2 provincial check-off. After a strategic planning session in March 2017, ACFA met with ABP and discussed the creation of the Alberta Beef Industry Development Fund (ABIDF).

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According to an ACFA newsletter the ABIDF would fund projects that advance Alberta’s beef industry through promotion and marketing campaigns, research, and sustainability initiatives. Reinstating a mandatory, non-refundable check-off would be necessary to establish and fund this joint endeavour.

The new agreement proposes a formula for the mandatory $2 per head check-off that would send $1.30 to the ABP, $0.25 to ACFA, $0.40 to the jointly controlled industry development fund and $0.05 to remitters such as auction markets to cover the cost of collecting the check-off. This breakdown would be subject to review, amendment or termination after a set amount of time, according to the newsletter.

This topic generated much debate both for and against the proposed agreement at the annual meeting. One of the main arguments in support of the fund was that many ACFA members are also cow-calf producers, and that it is necessary for all producers in Alberta to work together to improve the beef industry.

In the end the members approved a resolution to accept the agreement as proposed and direct the board of directors to finalize the NEBI agreement on or before Jan. 1, 2019. The two associations now need to create a detailed plan that includes reducing each group’s operating costs by working together on development projects.

The next step will be to petition the provincial minister of agriculture to set up a producer plebiscite to approve turning the provincial check-off back into a non-refundable levy.

ABP executive director Rich Smith expects the two groups will apply for a plebiscite this spring in hopes a vote can coincide with the ABP’s regional producer meetings in November.

A number of other resolutions were introduced from the floor and approved during the meeting. Among these, the ACFA resolved to lobby the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to make more of the information collected on RFID tags available to anyone in the beef chain. A related resolution supported the use of higher frequency RFID tags.

Other resolutions urged the ACFA to lobby the provincial and federal government to lower the corporate tax on Alberta businesses by six per cent to keep them competitive with the United States, and to eliminate supply management in the dairy and poultry sectors.

Elections for the 2018 board of directors saw new and returning directors joining the board for two-year terms. Jake Bueckert, Ryan Kasko, Greg Schmidt, John Schooten and Jeff Smith were re-elected, and new director Karleen Clark rounded out the six open positions.

The ACFA 2018 board of directors is as follows: Ryan Kasko (chair), Coaldale; Colleen Mackey (vice-chair), Picture Butte; Jacob Bueckert (chair of governance, finance, audit committee), Warner; Martin Zuidhof (past chair), Lacombe; James Bekkering, Taber; Karleen Clark, Coaldale; Jason Hagel, Swalwell; Craig Paskal, Picture Butte; Greg Schmidt, Barrhead; and John Schooten, Diamond City.

Near the end of the meeting, ACFA president and CEO Bryan Walton was presented with the ACFA Lifetime Honorary Member Award for his years of service to the association. Walton, who has been the ACFA CEO since February 2007, will soon retire from this position.

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