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Letters – for Feb. 14, 2011

PreserveCBEF

Since its inception in 1989, the Canada Beef Export Federation (CBEF) has steadfastly tried to unite the beef industry in Canada for the betterment of each sector. CBEF’s membership includes all the primary producer organizations, the beef processors and the beef distributors: all are voluntary dues-paying members of the federation and each has an equal right to develop the policies and priorities that guide the federation.

CBEF’s governance model calls for its members to elect their leadership (chair, three vice-chairs and four committee chairs) and allows major contributors who contribute over $100,000 per year to appoint a director to the board. This provides for a board of directors which combines both the knowledgeable and experience of the elected leaders with the true accountability provided by the appointed directors. This model has served CBEF and the Canadian beef industry well: it is the one national forum where the whole industry co-operatively works together to improve each other’s lot.

The Canada Beef Working Group has proposed a new governance model for an organization that would have the same vision as CBEF but a different mission. The Canada Beef Working Group mission is to “enhance and sustain the profitability of Canadian beef producers.” There is no mention of the processors, distributors or retailers who actually have the job of selling beef, not just producing it. The proposed organization does away with the notion of dues-paying membership (with a resulting revenue loss of $100,000 in fees and $300,000 in matching government funds). It eliminates policy and priority creation by the membership and there will be no election of leadership by, and no accountability to, the members and creates a critical loss of access to essential market intelligence for all industry participants on an equal footing

CBEF members have already voted overwhelmingly in favour (76 per cent) of a strategic alliance of Canada’s beef promotion organizations. The Canada Beef Working Group looked at that option and found numerous benefits:

“It would be less intrusive than a full merger. “

“It would create opportunity for administrative and operational efficiencies.”

“It has a short implementation phase which is less disruptive to current programs.”

“It can advance a consolidated strategic marketing/funding initiative.”

“It provides an opportunity to harmonize the organizations”.

What more could the beef industry ask for?

GIB DRURY, CHAIR, CANADA BEEF EXPORT FEDERATION

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