Non-refundable checkoff still ABP issue

Two resolutions presented to Alberta Beef Producers at its annual meeting earlier this month called for the return of a non-refundable checkoff.

A third called for producers’ right to decide whether the checkoff should be refundable or not.

All three were passed.

Similar resolutions were passed last year in the ongoing controversy that has surrounded the checkoff issue since it became refundable as decreed in provincial legislation in 2010. 

Since then, refunds have depleted ABP funds available for research and promotion and made it difficult to predict the budget.

“With the change in the number of marketings that we’ve seen over the last number of years … and the amount of refunds, it’s getting more and more difficult to fund some of the key things within Alberta Beef,” ABP chair Greg Bowie said in a Dec. 12 interview.

“There isn’t another jurisdiction in the world that doesn’t have a mandatory checkoff of some form in order to cover research and promotion.”

The organization collects $3 per head sold in Alberta. Of that, $1 is provided to Canada Beef Inc. and the Beef Cattle Research Council. That portion is not refundable.

ABP used to collect $8 to $12 million per year from the checkoff, but the refund option shrunk that to about $5 million. It is expected to drop further due to smaller cattle numbers in the province.

Bowie said ABP has spoken with government about its options. Reversion to the pre-2010 legislation of allowing non-refundable checkoffs is one of them, but not the only one.

“Every year it’s getting more and more difficult for ABP to step up and put the amount of funds that they want to in order to get the matching money from the government … for research projects,” he said.

“We’re going to have to do something different than what the trend is right now.”

A large percentage of requests for refunds come from feedlots, and because they trade large numbers of cattle, the amounts can be substantial. 

However, feedlots say they can’t afford to forgo check-off money unless their competitors do as well.

Rules governing checkoffs are the responsibility of the Alberta Agricultural Products Marketing Council.


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