Check-off refunds consistent with previous years: ABP

Alberta Beef Producers also intends to revitalize group’s communications strategy by developing its own magazine

Alberta Beef Producers met through a virtual town hall Nov. 26 as the pandemic continues to alter the usual meetings of farm groups.

Financial data indicated that ABP issued 1,066 refunds on the refundable portion of the beef checkoff, totalling $3.2 million.

ABP controller Laura Procunier said that amount is consistent with previous years and the bulk of refunds are requested by larger feedlots.

General manager Brad Dubeau reported on plans to launch an ABP magazine in January as one element in his plans to revitalize the group’s communication strategy.

“I felt it was time to shake it up a bit,” he said.

The quarterly publication will replace Grass Routes, the emailed newsletter, as well as the Cattle Country segment on radio. It will also eliminate the need to place advertising in other publications, Dubeau said. Its own advertising revenue will be designed to offset production costs.

ABP will also initiate an app to provide producers with any urgent messaging “including disease notifications, weather alerts and topics personally selected by the individual.”

ABP Digital, a further initiative, will provide daily resources and a platform for communication of information including market reports, research, technology and global affairs.

Brian Perillat of Canfax reported that packing plants are exceeding year-ago slaughter numbers and the backlog of fat cattle that occurred in spring, due to pandemic-related plant closures and temporary shutdowns, is still being addressed.

The most recent set-aside numbers, animals with delayed marketing, show 70,000 head in the program and about half due for release to slaughter by January.

Perillat said the backlogged cattle will likely weigh on the market into 2021. The market rally usually seen in late November and early December has not appeared and the industry is leery about the effects a second COVID-19 wave could have on plants and markets.

David Moss, general manager of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, reported that Canada’s application to the world animal health organization, the OIE, to acquire negligible risk BSE status is in review and a ruling is expected in spring 2021. If achieved, Canada can then review its specified risk material (SRM) protocols at packing plants.

Michael Young of Canada Beef said demand for beef remains strong, with a 15 to 25 percent increase in retail beef sales compared to this time last year because consumers did more cooking at home.

Pandemic-related lockdowns have resulted in 7,500 permanent restaurant closures across Canada and Young said he thinks that is “only the beginning” as loans and rent payments come due. There have also been 180,000 job losses in the food service sector, again with further losses expected.

Young said China has delisted 63 meat-processing plants around the world, a few of them in Canada, as it continues to claim it has detected COVID-19 on packaging.

The provincial government has approved changes to the ABP governing structure. The organization now has five zones instead of nine and will have 35 delegates instead of 55. Board elections are expected to be held at the annual general meeting in March.

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