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December 21, 2022

Highlights from the chair

The snow is falling outside as I sit down to write this today, as it is for most across the province. The long-range forecast predicts a lot of moisture this winter, and I sure hope we get it. Our pastures and dugouts really need it.

Photo Credit: @ciarasandumphotography

Talking cattle, we didn’t quite get to where we had hoped with calf prices this fall run. Many producers, like myself, were banking on a three-dollar six weight, which we have not reached, and unfortunately, I don’t believe we will for 2023. Heifer calves that are going for feeding have also taken a bit of a hit, as most aren’t looking to replace much right now. 

We receive many calls from producers across the province about the issue of discrepancy between steer and heifer calf prices. The price differences range anywhere from 32 cents all the way up to a 90-cent difference for some of you. It is difficult for us at ABP to comment on because it’s truly driven by the market. What the market is telling us right now is that it is risk adverse. Heifer calves don’t feed or finish as well as steer calves, and if they are not targeted for replacement, then there’s going to be a dip in their price. 

When it comes to cows, today as I write this in late November, there remains quite a backlog of feeder cows. Not a lot of positive news on the cattle market as we end the year, unfortunately, but I remain stubbornly optimistic that the market, especially calves, will have a strong recovery in 2023. Everything is sure lining up that way on all fronts, and especially with the decreasing number of cattle we have in this country. 

Out of the sale yard and on a more positive note, we had the exciting opportunity to speak in the House of Commons this fall. Unfortunately, we couldn’t be there in-person, as it was cost prohibitive to travel to Ottawa for only a couple of hours, but we did attend virtually, and on relatively short notice. ABP was asked to speak on a bill that was put forward “to green the prairie provinces.” We had the chance to speak on what agriculture is doing for the environment – like carbon sequestration, maintaining wildlife habitat, and native prairie, to other advancements in sustainability. We received great questions and feedback from the members of parliament in attendance. It was refreshing and a welcome opportunity to speak about the good things we are doing in agriculture, and more specifically, in our beef industry.

Looking forward, as we at ABP enter the new year, we will continue to work on business risk management and our Living Labs initiative. I mentioned in my last column in the September issue of ABP, that Foot and Mouth Disease is high on our radar. In 2023 we will be working with government on the issue and across all provinces to design an emergency plan and vaccine bank. It is a high priority.

I am proud of the work that our team at ABP has accomplished this past year. Like so many producers across our province, we have taken every adversity, challenge, and opportunity head-on to the best of our ability for the chance to continue to work in this industry and provide the best beef product in the world. 

Wishing you a chance to relax and reflect this holiday season, and may 2023 bring many happy returns.


This article was first published in Volume 2 Issue 5 of ABP Magazine (December 2022). Watch for more digital content from the magazine on ABP Daily.

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About the Author

Melanie Wowk
Melanie Wowk and her husband operate Wowk Ranch, a multigenerational cow-calf operation near Beauvallon. Melanie has also been primarily a cow-calf veterinarian since 1993, operating her own practice, and she now works in the pharmaceutical industry. Melanie has served on the ABP board as Finance Chair, Vice Chair, and Chair.

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