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Letters – for Jan. 5, 2009

Leave CBEF alone

I read with interest the comments made by Brad Wildeman (November 2008 CANADIAN CATTLEMEN, pg. 55) regarding the proposed merger of the Beef Information Centre (BIC) and Canada Beef Export Federation (CBEF). If the Framework study had been more than just “perceptions” and “opinion” it would have recognized that CBEF does more than just marketing. CBEF staff are involved in market intelligence gathering, communication, occasional mediation between members and clients, and assisting in access negotiations in the six markets where CBEF has offices and any other country that has some potential for our product.

Having served as chairman of CBEF and on the board of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) for a number of years, I can say from personal knowledge that CBEF is a unique and specialized organization with a very different focus than BIC. Building a presence for our beef in global markets is vastly different from marketing it in Canada and the U. S. To treat these markets the same and consider a one-size-fits-all marketing solution could cost our industry dearly. The CCA might do well to remember the success we enjoyed in these international markets pre-BSE, and to where, working with CBEF, we hope to return.

To many of us familiar with these organizations, the most effective merger would be between CBEF and Canada Pork International. They have a presence in the same markets, share an export mentality and have co-operated in the past on seminars and func-

tions. The same cannot be said for BIC and CBEF.

The cost of this little exercise will again be born by the producer. The next step alone will be roughly $80,000 with little to show for it.

As for the difficulty CCA producer directors have in deciding what portion of the checkoff goes to each organization that will not change if the two organizations are merged. The debate would merely be internalized and not have the profile it does now. My simple solution would be to let the split reflect the export/domestic split. This funding split only became contentious after CBEF matured and our export markets grew. It has become very obvious that exports are a very large part of what is necessary for the health of our industry. Domestic demand is important but it can’t resolve our supply problems.

It appears to me that CCA is once again trying to exert pressure on a successful stand-alone organization (CBEF) that answers to its own board representing producers, packers and government and not the CCA. Unfortunately my faith in the CCA’s judgment on issues such as this was shattered by the way changes were forced on the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA). As a result, we now have an organization intent on spending the surplus left by previous management and possibly bumping up the cost of RFID tags to pay for a full-time lawyer, enlarged staff and consultants all needed in order to run the organization as a “business.” Talk about inefficient use of resources!

The last thing we need is for CCA to try to expand its umbrella to manage more of what we as an industry are already doing without their questionable guidance.

Larry Sears

Stavey, Alta.

Dictator Stelmach

I have no doubt that any dictator would feel right at home in Alberta today where the government of Premier Ed Stelmach is extremely pleased about their new Alberta Livestock and Meat Strategy with mandatory premise identification and age verification.

We already have all the traceability that is needed. If you want age verification leave it voluntary. If it proves beneficial to producers, enrollment will grow.

If government wants to do something, allow optional BSE testing at slaughter plants.

Mac Laycock Valleyview, Alta.

Problems with twine

I read with interest an article that you had in your November issue concerning field grazing of large round bales. I also noticed from the accompanying picture that the strings were still attached during the feeding process. I realize the strings assist in reducing waste due to trampling, but having spent time as a meat inspector with the CFIA I have come across numerous paunches that have harboured large masses of twine that accumulate in the rumen, slowly decomposing and possibly inhibiting digestion over a period of time. There is a possibility that next time a producer who practices this type of feeding comes across an animal exhibiting signs of hardware disease, (twine) could in fact be the problem.

J. P. Scherger

CFIA Anima Programs Inspector Medicine Hat, Alta.

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