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ABP Chair Melanie Wowk and Finance Chair Brodie Haugan visit with Premier Jason Kenney while touring drought-impacted operations in August 2021. Photo credit: Winston Pon, Government of Alberta
February 21, 2023 Checking in with ABP

Highlights from the chair

This is my last column as Chair, ABP. It’s hard to believe. The past two years have gone by in a flash and what a ride it has been.

Sometimes we surprise ourselves with what we can accomplish in times of challenge, and during the past two years at ABP in my role as Chair and as an organization, this rings especially true. The drought proved that. We forged ahead with a plan of action as to how we were going to bring meaningful help and support to producers. We worked together as a team that involved ABP staff, Executive, and Board in the relentless pursuit of developing a plan, and we made it happen.

One of our biggest achievements as an organization over the last 24 months is the relationships we have made with the government and our push for the beef industry and for agriculture in general. I believe that the turning point for government relations for ABP and our industry as a whole, which also happened during the drought, was when we had Premier Kenney and several government officials, including key MLAs, meet with ABP and visit impacted beef operations in Alberta. To me, that was a turning point for our organization and industry. To have the Premier spend a day with us really emphasized the importance of agriculture in this province. And that’s something I’d really like to see continue.

Of course, there are factors that we continue to face in the beef industry that remain out of our control beyond the weather. Issues like the glaring price discrepancy between steers and heifer calves, especially this past fall run, or the prices of beef in the grocery store. The profits seen at the packer level simply aren’t flowing back to producers. It is extremely difficult to figure out solutions for these issues.

For those still on the fence [about running for a role within ABP],
I highly encourage you to consider stepping up and helping share your insights, expertise, and leadership.

ABP Chair Melanie Wowk

We are such a market-driven commodity, and that is a challenging position. Regardless, I encourage all producers to start raising their expectations—we need to get paid for what we are producing.

So many producers are hanging on by a thread—mentally and financially—and we need each and every one of us to remain in this industry. The hard situations we have faced and some of the conversations I had with producers across the province kept me up at night during my term, and sometimes still do. How are we going to get past the next hurdle? For many, that might be the final breaking point, and that does not bode well for the future of our industry.

However, all adversities considered, when it comes to our future, I am encouraged. I am thrilled to see producers from across the province coming forward to fill delegate and executive roles. For those still on the fence, I highly encourage you to consider stepping up and helping share your insights, expertise, and leadership.

My experience as Chair has played a significant role in my personal and professional development. In fact, my biggest surprise in this experience is discovering what I could accomplish. I’ve always been shy and introverted, and this role really pushed me to improve my public speaking, to be more forceful about what I believe in, and be confident in leadership. I really did surprise myself. I didn’t grow up in the beef industry and I didn’t grow up in agriculture. So for me to be in this type of position was often very surreal. I hold a great deal of gratitude for all of the support I received.

I leave the position and organization in very good hands with a team of talented staff and the guidance of Brad Dubeau—an exceptional leader who is a connected and passionate advocate for the industry, and each and every producer behind it.

We need to continue to spell out our message about all of the good things we do in agriculture. We need to keep going forward with that message. In the words of our past ABP Vice Chair, Jason Hale, “It is not what you say, but how you say it.” And, I think we’re learning how to say things better, and I think that’s what we really need to do to elevate our industry of agriculture through good times and bad.

This has been the experience of a lifetime for me. I never imagined that I would become Chair when I ran as a delegate seven years ago. I just knew that I loved the beef industry and I wanted to help move it forward.

I would like to thank you for your trust in me and the support that I have received that has helped me throughout this journey and, although I have reached the final destination as Chair, ABP, when it comes to my passion for our beef industry – the journey continues.

Thank you,


This article was first published in Volume 3 Issue 1 of ABP Magazine (February 2023). 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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Choice Steers

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Choice Heifers

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Rail: 290.00-291.00 (IA, NE) last week

Boner Cows

Over 500 lbs: US $211.02

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Livestock Price Insurance Index

Expiry Fed Feeder Calf
25-Dec-23 - - -
22-Jan-24 234 320 -
19-Feb-24 236 330 -
18-Mar-24 238 330 -
15-Apr-24 246 334 -
13-May-24 246 340 -
10-Jun-24 252 346 -
Last Updated on September 28, 2023