It’s been a whirlwind of a growing season, and it’s hard to believe we’re nearing autumn already.
Our spring was mired by unprecedented wildfires, and despite our greatest hopes for precipitation, many of us are managing our way through yet another drought. Yet there is optimism – we are seeing historic demand and prices for our product, increased awareness of the role native grasslands play in our ecosystem, and the continued development of a transparent, unified voice representing the Alberta beef industry.
This past month beef industry representatives from across the country came together at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC) in Calgary. Alberta Beef Producers was proud to host the pre-tour, which highlighted great initiatives and stories in agriculture, including the award-winning Wray Ranch. Wray Ranch and the Wray families are this year’s recipients of our provincial Environmental Stewardship Award, and, excitingly, were announced the national winners during the conference. My sincere congratulations to the Wray families on their well-deserved recognition!
In July, ABP invited Alberta beef industry groups to the table. Representatives have non–voting seats on our board to increase our communication and transparency, create a unified voice for our industry, and further drive collaboration and efficiencies for the betterment of the Alberta beef industry. These groups currently include Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association (ACFA), Western Stock Growers’ Association (WSGA), Alberta Grazing Leaseholders Association (AGLA), Feeder Associations of Alberta (FAA), Alberta Auction Markets Association (AAMA) and Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA).
On drought response, I was grateful to see this year’s early release of initial prescribed regions under the Livestock Tax Deferral provisions. There are 18 regions under States of Agricultural Disaster in the province, and 56 areas are listed as regions designated for Livestock Tax Deferral within western Canada. The ability to defer income on livestock sales to next tax year will dramatically lower tax burdens for those who choose to utilize the provisions. And for those who hope to or need to destock temporarily, the potential to offset some of the costs of reacquiring breeding animals will make that option much more feasible.
That said, not everyone impacted by drought will choose to sell breeding animals. That’s why we are continuing to push for a timely decision on AgriRecovery. Livestock producers need to know their options as soon as possible. Many who hope to keep animals are looking at tacking on weeks or even months of extending feeding. There will be some hard numbers to crunch for many of us, and the sooner we can evaluate our options and make those decisions, the better.
However, AgriRecovery is not, and should not be, an every-year option. For the benefit of consumers and producers alike, we need Business Risk Management (BRM) programming that is timely, consistent, and supports the whole cattle industry.
I am thankful for the positive relationships and collaborative meetings between ABP and Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) as we explore potential augmentations to the BRM suite. We’ve had positive discussions around making AgriStability more relevant to livestock producers, specifically the cow-calf sector. For example, making relatively simple changes to eligible expenses and changing how feed is assessed year-to-year could go a long way in more adequately and equitably supporting the cow-calf sector.
We’re also seeing positivity in the markets, and I’m excited about the potential for profitability in our sector. Let’s hope fall and winter moisture recharges allow producers to capitalize on the opportunities ahead.
I look forward to continuing to work with the cattle community in my role as Chair and hope to have the opportunity to connect with each of you at the upcoming Engagement Sessions and Producer Meetings this fall and winter.
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