Elimination of bison commission ends voluntary checkoff

A $3 checkoff for every bison sold and slaughtered in Alberta ceased to exist as of June 30.

The Bison Producers of Alberta board agreed in March to dissolve as a commission and instead become an association. Without commission status, the group can no longer collect a slaughter and sale levy.

Like other checkoffs in Alberta, the BPA version was fully refundable, which reduced the amount collected and made budgeting difficult. Nor was there a standard point of sale for bison that allowed easy collection of the checkoff.

Former BPA chair Marvin Moore said earlier this year that it was difficult to convince people to voluntarily submit the checkoff.

Last year, $11,000 was collected from a potential $80,000.

BPA office manager Linda Sautner said the move from commission to association is not expected to substantially change operations. It will continue sending newsletters to its approximately 240 members, promote bison at trade shows and lobby government when needed.

Membership fees will rise to $125 from $75 next year to help fund activities.

Sautner said there are 60,000 bison in Alberta, which is down from a high of 100,000 in 1995. Low prices and fallout from the BSE crisis reduced the number of producers.

Prices are now rising, and the remaining producers are retaining heifers and trying to expand herds to supply what appears to be a growing market.

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