Alberta beef plans vote on checkoff changes

Resolutions supporting a vote on reformulating Alberta’s beef service charges have received producer approval.

Delegates to the Alberta Beef Producers annual meeting want a clearly worded question for a producer plebiscite on the status of the $3 per head checkoff as well as information about how money is spent and how it might be divided among provincial cattle groups.

“We are going to have a very strong information package to educate our producers and delegates about the value of this commission,” Chris Israelson of Didsbury said at the meeting held in Calgary Dec. 4-6.

Alberta retains $2 and remits $1 to the national checkoff agency.

Negotiations between ABP and the Alberta Cattle Feeders Association continue, said chair Bob Lowe.

“We have an agreement in principle with the Alberta cattle feeders. The details have to be hammered out and we hope that gets done before their AGM in February so we can go to government hand in hand and ask for a plebiscite,” he said.

While ABP can advise the Alberta Agriculture Marketing Council on the wording of the question, it will not actually write it. That duty is left to marketing council, which administers the province’s agriculture boards and commissions.

The negotiations propose a beef industry development fund in which a portion of the money collected on every animal sold is set aside for research and education. An appointed council would administer the funds.

“To me this development fund signifies the industry coming together. I believe it will be the catalyst that brings the industry together and we can quit warring with other factions for a while,” Lowe said.

In addition, regulations are being changed so Alberta can start collecting the national checkoff, which is going up to $2.50 per head from $1.

Alberta should start collecting it next April. This money goes to the national checkoff agency and is split between Canada Beef Inc. and the Beef Cattle Research Council. Some provinces retain the right to hold back some of the money for specific local programs.

Most of the provinces have moved toward changing regulations to collect the extra money. Ontario is the only one that has yet to vote on the increase.

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