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Canada Beef promotion, research focus of new chair

A British Columbia rancher is the new chair of Canada Beef.

Linda Allison of Princeton has a full agenda for the next two years as she guides the Canadian Beef Cattle Research, Market Development and Promotion Agency.

She takes over from Saskatchewan producer Jack Hextall, another full-time rancher who understands farm economics and the practical side of beef production.

The Canada Beef board includes producers, exporters and processors with the common goal of selling more beef at the highest possible value.

Allison has been active in B.C. farm politics and was chair of the cattle industry council that administers check-off money to provincial groups. She was also involved in new water legislation in the province and its implications for agriculture.

Her new focus is to ensure that a $2.50 per head levy is put in place to support national beef promotion and research. A $1 per head national levy is now collected on every animal sold.

“I am very passionate about ensuring that this checkoff rolls along smoothly, and we can continue to elevate the industry using the strategy, which requires those check-off dollars,” she said in an interview at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference held in Calgary Aug. 9-11.

Promotion will be part of her job because there are communication gaps about what a checkoff does and what it pays for.

She also recognized that a difference of opinion persists over the merger of the Canada Beef Export Federation and Beef Information Centre five years ago.

As well, some provinces hold back some of the national money to support regional programs.

“Diplomacy is going to be a big key trying to bring everybody together and showing all the provinces the benefit of the checkoff is going to do,” she said.

“It is key that we move forward with a united voice.”

She said producers must do a better job of connecting with consumers.

“As ranchers, we keep our heads down and deal with the elements,” she said.

“We may not always appreciate that emotion that we need to build with the consumer. We think we are connected, but we need to connect at a deeper level.”

The national levy collected $7.6 million in the 2015 fiscal year, and fewer sales of cattle resulted in $6.8 million for the fiscal year that ended March 31. About $900,000 was collected on imported beef.

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