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It’s decision time on beef checkoff

Cattle producers will have three ways to vote on the proposed non-refundable checkoff — by mail, at their local Agriculture Financial Services Corporation office, or one of Alberta Beef Producers’ 27 fall meetings.

ABP and the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association (ACFA) will be holding a plebiscite from Oct. 19 to Nov. 13 on their joint proposal for a non-refundable $2-per-head checkoff. Each year, Alberta Beef Producers refunds about $2 million — roughly a third of the total collected, with feeders accounting for the lion’s share of refunds.

The two groups conducted lengthy negotiations before reaching an agreement on a plebiscite, which the province had insisted on before considering any changes to the legislation governing checkoffs.

The key to the agreement was creating an industry development fund. The fund will receive 40 cents of the $2 checkoff, which will amount to about $1.4 million annually. That money will be used for technology transfer, market development, education, consumer advocacy, and industry collaboration. Alberta Beef Producers will receive $1.35, “which is approximately the amount we currently retain after refunds are issued,” the group said in a news release. (However, part of that money goes elsewhere — 53 cents to the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and five cents to those who collect and remit the checkoff.)

The remaining amount, 25 cents per head, will go to the feeders’ association (with some of that being passed along to the National Cattle Feeders’ Association). Producers who do not want the 25 cents per head to go to the feeders’ association can have it directed to the development fund.

“I encourage all cattle producers to vote this fall in the plebiscite to decide on funding for the future of your industry,” Ryan Kasko, chair of the feeders’ association, said in the news release.

“ABP and ACFA have committed to working together on trade challenges, farm safety issues, investing in research, and many other important issues facing the cattle industry. Please get out and vote.”

“This is your decision — please make sure you vote in the plebiscite,” added ABP chair Charlie Christie.

ABP is holding producer meetings in all nine of its zones from Oct. 23 to Nov. 7. The dates and locations can be found on the home page of albertabeef.org.

The total checkoff for cattle is $4.50 as there is also a $2.50 non-refundable national levy. That money mainly goes to fund Canada Beef and the Beef Cattle Research Council.

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