Group urges check-off hike for increased promotion, research

Canada Beef delegates have proposed increasing the national beef checkoff to $2.50 per head to fund national beef programs.

A resolution to increase the current non-refundable levy from $1 to $2.50 per animal sold was passed by delegates to the research, market development and promotion agency’s annual meeting in Calgary Sept. 18.

The money goes to the national agency to support beef promotion and research. No money is spent on lobbying or to fund the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

The proposal will be aired at provincial meetings this fall, but some delegates warned there will be resistance from provinces such as Ontario and Quebec.

The Beef Farmers of Ontario board has already voted against the proposal, and grassroots producers are likely to oppose it, said Bob Gordanier of Ontario.

“Our producers are telling us they don’t feel they are getting value with (Canada Beef Inc.),” he said.

However, more money is needed and an increase is almost a certainty, said Canada Beef chair Jack Hextall of Saskatchewan.

The beef industry has to put up more money for promotion and research if it expects government to provide further support.

“If industry is not there with significant dollars, you can’t expect government to be there with significant dollars,” Hextall said in an interview.

Canada Beef is the result of a mer-ger between the Beef Information Centre and the Canada Beef Export Federation.

BIC and CBEF used to have a combined budget of $18 million from the checkoff and other support programs.

“We are down this year to around $9 to $10 million,” said Hextall.

With various funding programs drying up, the budget could fall to $8.5 million.

Canada Beef received $7.6 million in check-off revenue for the 2014-15 fiscal year, but that figure is expected to fall as the number of cattle sales decline.

A second resolution was passed to disallow provinces from withholding any part of the $1.50 in-crease for their own initiatives.

The provinces signed agreements when the new agency was formed that allowed them to hold back money back.

British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan do not withhold any national check-off funds, but some provinces use the money to fund initiatives in which producers see direct benefit, said Gordanier.

“It is unfortunate when provinces have a refundable checkoff,” he said. “That refundable checkoff goes back into the pocket of the individual that asked for the money.”

It could leave a province scrambling for cash for local programs.

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