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(Christian Heckle, Prairie Rose Photography)
September 23, 2021 Checking in with ABP

This Too Shall Pass: Resilience and perseverance in the face of drought

This fall issue of ABP is arriving to in mailboxes across Alberta in the midst of what for most, is a busy fall run. Calves are headed to market and tough decisions are being made in cow herds across the province, to pivot to the unprecedented drought and heat that we have endured and the challenging feed situation that we face heading into the winter months. These are challenging times.

In the beef industry, we’ve faced difficult times before. Whether it was BSE, Covid, weather including previous droughts, we’ve developed resilience. We will get through this drought as well. In fact, for those who stick it out and continue to produce beef, I believe you will be rewarded down the road. The outlook for our industry is positive—we just have to get through a difficult time to get there.

The fact is agriculture has always been a risky business. If we were risk-adverse we wouldn’t be farming or ranching. The benefits come through the risks. What is unique right now though, is how widespread the drought is across Canada. In the past we could usually count on another province for feed but, in this case, everyone is dealing with decreased feed supplies. 

While the industry faces the challenge of drought, ABP has struggled too. Our board and executive is forced to make tough decisions about our future in the interests of ensuring we can be sustainable with current refunds. Although the majority of the 18,000 producers across the province support our industry through check-off, given the substantial refund rate (46 per cent in 2020), we simply can’t continue to deliver programs and support external organization at previous levels.   

We’re working as hard as we can with available resources, but a very significant portion of  check-off dollars are allocated to CCA and shifting that allocation to be tied to available funds is one option we are planning for in 2023.

As we strive to make the best financial decisions, we want your feedback. On page # of this publication, you’ll find the first in a three-part series exploring our options as we look for the best path forward. Please follow this series and be sure to participate in upcoming producer meetings where you’ll have the opportunity to engage with delegates and express your ideas about what you want our organization to do for you now and into future. 

This season we have also brought new people into the organization and made significant changes in how we run the business. I welcome the new individuals to our team and express appreciation to those who continued to work tirelessly with us through the changes. 

The continued work the ABP team is doing in response to the drought is one example of the critical work our organization does for producers and our beef industry in Alberta. Through our direct efforts, meeting with the Alberta government, we helped them to personally experience the effects of the drought, the implications to producers, food production and our economy in the province. I know it won’t solve all the problems, but hopefully the support now being provided by the provincial and federal governments gives producers some breathing room to consider options for their cow herds. This is a good time to make new management decisions, refine the herd or seek efficiencies. Maybe it’s time to look at the opportunities of your business and make changes to enhance or refine your operations. Are there opportunities to increase efficiencies or integrate sustainability markers like managing water differently, or install a solar system or creating additional revenue streams? 

It will take time, but I believe brighter days are on the horizon, assuming of course, that we return to average moisture levels. Supply is going to tighten up and we will eventually see better prices for producers. In the short term, we are hopeful that markets stay steady with last year and cow-calf producers are rewarded accordingly. 

On the brighter side, the new negligible risk status on BSE is one current positive for our industry. As a nation we can now work to develop new markets, opening up an incredible amount of opportunity. It’s a positive step for our industry, allowing us to broaden our horizons and deliver more of our world-class beef across Canada and around the world.

Communications continues to be at the forefront of our efforts at ABP as well and now more than ever are we realizing its importance. Whether it’s about drought support or updates, international markets, BSE news, ABP provides you with the most current industry news and information through the range of communication platforms we have now invested in. You can use these to connect and stay informed about what is happening. Whether you read ABP Magazine, visit ABPDaily.com, or use the ABP App on your smart phone, these tools continue to improve with time. 

I encourage you to reference one or all of them regularly to stay engaged with what your industry organization is doing for you. Rest assured, we will continue to monitor the drought situation and work hard on behalf of producers and our industry to ensure we remain sustainable and continue to build on the success of the world-class beef we are recognized for on the global stage.

Until then, remain confident in the growing demand that we have and continue to build for Alberta beef. As the saying goes “this too shall pass,” in fact, as I write this column today, we are receiving the first significant rainfall we have seen in months – 2 inches and counting. I know that we will once again come through this time of adversity with resilience, to face the opportunities that lie ahead for our industry.


This article was first published in the September 2021 edition of ABP Magazine. Watch for more digital content from the magazine.

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About the Author

Brad Dubeau
Brad Dubeau grew up on a commercial ranch west of Medicine Hat, Alberta, and has worked in the industry in a number of roles. Today, in addition to operating a grasser operation west of Medicine Hat, Brad is the General Manager of Alberta Beef Producers.

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Livestock Price Insurance Index

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021