The Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association is seeking feedback on whether it should change its name.
Chair Arnold Balicki said an online survey is one way that the organization, which represents all Saskatchewan producers who pay check-off fees, is gauging what its members want.
A motion to change the name to something that better reflects the gender diversity of the membership was defeated at the recent annual meeting amid comments that generated concern and considerable discussion on social media.
“There’s been some chatter as you can see on social media,” Balicki said last week. “We felt that there are people who are timid, for lack of a better word, that would not want to engage on social media and so we thought, well, the survey gives them an opportunity to speak up without engaging publicly with anyone and we felt that would be a better reflection of how they really feel.”
The survey asks if the respondent is a producer and allows for comments.
Balicki said the board wants to encourage dialogue and hopes the survey format lets people express themselves freely, without fear of being attacked on social media.
He said 85 people took the survey within the first 12 hours it was available.
SCA staff plan to compile the responses and other comments as guidance for board discussion.
Balicki said he believes something this important should be discussed in person and he hopes COVID restrictions will be eased enough that the board can meet in June.
He also said the board had previously taken the Respect in the Workplace course with regard to bullying. That course has now been updated to deal with inclusion and current board and staff will be taking it again.
Balicki pointed out that the SCA board has often included women, and that former director Paula Larson served as chair for a year. Two current directors are women and last year the board asked Holly Sparrow to sit as a non-voting member representing the Young Cattlemen’s Council.
He said he hopes women currently on the board feel able to speak up.
Many of those who have commented since this discussion began say the name isn’t really the issue.
“The name isn’t a reflection of who we are,” Balicki said. “Who we are is how we think and speak, and our actions in regard to each other. We need to be respectful and treat each other with dignity.
“If there’s going to be a change that’s what we need to work towards.”
He added that more female candidates will be sought when board elections come up this fall. He said there is no shortage of capable women in the industry, noting they lead organizations, such as Agriculture in the Classroom, Verified Beef Plus and the Beef Cattle Research Council,.
A link to the survey can be found at www.saskbeef.com.