Spring has returned to Alberta and with it brings the promise of new life and brighter days. I hope that as you are reading this, you feel the same way.
Since the last issue of ABP, we continue to be very busy working for, with and on behalf of producers.
The ABP Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held in early March, and it was the first face to face meeting of delegates since December 2019. It was wonderful for everyone to finally meet in person, and for the new delegates to get to know each other. We’ve been grateful for the opportunity to meet digitally these past two years, but it provides limited opportunity to socialize and connect – something our industry thrives on.
We are still seeking delegates in the Northwest and central areas of Alberta, so if you live in those areas and are interested in getting involved, I encourage you to please contact the ABP office or a delegate in your zone.
There were some important resolutions carried during our AGM, and I’d like to share details of those with you here.
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In a Special Edition of The Bovine, ABP Chair Dr. Melanie Wowk and General Manager Brad Dubeau join host Debra Murphy to re-cap the AGM. Listen to hear about some of the debated resolutions, funding changes, the communications tools, and next steps for ABP. Find this episode on Buzzsprout or download it now.
First, the conversation continues around carbon sequestration and offsets, and ABP is actively participating. Our goal is to support the development of protocols that will ensure Alberta beef producers benefit, financially and otherwise, from their sound management of grassland ecosystems. There continues to be concerns around easement length and dollars returned and we will continue to participate, advocating for Alberta beef producers in these important conversations.
Second, we discussed concerns around managing problem grizzly bears in rural communities, particularly in Southwestern Alberta. ABP resolved to lobby the government to provide livestock producers and landowners with damage permits, allowing them to kill a dangerous grizzly without being charged. There is a precedent for this allowance in the way we currently deal with problem coyotes. A permit would only be issued after a producer confirmed livestock kills or property damage. The outcome has yet to be determined, but we will ensure the government is aware of the problem and lend our support to other organizations tackling this issue head on.
Third, ABP resolved to work with other beef organizations to lobby for the removal of interprovincial trade barriers between the four Western provinces. Federally inspected hook space is limited and often cost-prohibitive for regional packers, making them unable to service niche markets. At the same time, interprovincial trade regulations prevent regional packers from reaching urban customers in neighbouring jurisdictions. This has been an issue for a long time. Change won’t happen overnight but opening trade across provincial borders is something we intend to explore.
A fourth resolution was not carried, but important to note. The board discussed the possibility of fully funding the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) after July 1, 2023, when the current agreement is complete. However, the resolution was defeated. The delegate body backed the board’s motion to move to one quarter of retained marketings. ‘Retained marketings’ is the amount of dollars generated by the $2 service charge less refunds when the current agreement is complete. We will, however, be fully funding the CCA until the end of the current agreement.
The delegate body recognizes the important work CCA does, and we know the funding reduction will be challenging. We hope to have a fully funded Alberta beef industry again in the future. To support this goal, the board struck a working group and tasked them with reviewing ABP’s plan. We will also meet with other member associations to research all options in hopes of returning to full funding in the future. This will require significant dedication on the part of everyone involved. We are committed to the process of reevaluating what is required to ensure the organizations representing beef producers in Alberta and across Canada are funded to the best of our ability.
A major issue that was raised at the AGM relates to producer data collection. After consulting with producers at the zone meetings, the delegate body voted for a commission regulation amendment allowing ABP to capture producer names and contact information.
The main purpose of this data collection is to support administration of the ABP plan and ensure we can make all Alberta beef producers aware of what is happening at ABP. No producer’s contact information would ever be made available outside the organization. We are now connecting with all producers who marketed cattle in the past two years to collect information, and will continue to consult with auction markets, dealers, and processors as well.
In fact, to our knowledge, ABP is the last commission not to know who the producers are that fund our beef industry. Other commissions already know who their producers are. We must complete this task in Alberta so we can join with other commissions helping producers stay current about what’s happening in the industry.
This magazine has provided a valuable tool for communication between ABP and the industry this past year, and I am pleased to report we confirmed at the AGM that the magazine will continue for another year.
You can find ABP Magazine online. Have a scroll through earlier editions, and keep an eye on ABP Daily for more articles from Volume 1 Issue 2!
By the time this issue is distributed, I hope additional moisture will have come to fill dugouts and relieve the areas of the province needing it most. With that said, we are continuing to monitor the drought situation, particularly in Southern Alberta, recognizing that some areas will likely go into summer this year very dry. If needed, we will work with the appropriate government officials and organizations to continue to seek and provide relief for producers who are affected.
Despite the challenges we continue to face, I’ve heard optimism expressed about the future, and I am determined to carry it. We should look forward with hope, to the promise of strong prices for our cattle across Alberta by the fall, amid tight supply.
This article was first published in Volume 2 Issue 2 of ABP Magazine (April 2022). Watch for more digital content from the magazine on ABP Daily.
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