Alberta Beef Producers opposes any move towards directional checkoff

CHECKOFF CHARGE No one is publicly championing the idea of a directional checkoff 
but ABP says it wants to be “proactive” and warn producers it’s a bad idea

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Alberta Beef Producers will vigorously oppose any attempt to impose a directional checkoff, says chair Doug Sawyer.

A directional (or directed) checkoff would mean producers would no longer have the option of requesting a refund but could direct their money to any livestock organization of their choice.

Although no one is publicly championing the idea, his board wants to “be proactive” on this issue, said Sawyer.

“We’re certainly talking publicly and making sure that producers know that by moving to a directional checkoff, that it would water their dollars down,” he said.

“You hear the number of 106 beef-related organizations in this province, and I think if there was money on the table there could be 206 tomorrow. That doesn’t do the industry any good by spreading what little bit of money we have over several organizations. We need it clearly in one spot, and focused.”

Any producer who wants to support a specific organization can request a refund and then write a cheque for the same amount to that group, said Sawyer.

He charged that both the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association and Western Stock Growers’ Association want a directional checkoff.

“The difference is that when the Cattle Feeders’ and the Western Stock Growers’ put a push on to get a refundable checkoff, they were hoping for directional and they didn’t get it, and those producers who are in their membership, I assume, are not writing them a cheque,” he said.

But the leaders of both organizations said they are not pushing for a directional checkoff.

“It’s news to me,” said Bryan Walton, CEO of the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association.

“We have ongoing and direct communication with the government, and everything we’re doing right now related to checkoff centres around the memorandum of agreement we have with the Alberta Beef Producers.”

Phil Rowland, president of the Western Stock Growers’ Association, was singing a similar tune. “Nope, that’s just a rumour,” said Rowland. “I just heard it yesterday from Bryan Walton because somebody like you called him and suggested that there was talk of it. So no, I haven’t heard any talk of it.”

Sawyer said his board understands that raising the issue publicly would generate controversy and he emphasized every group has a purpose and a place in the industry.

“I think that we should all be willing to pay a little bit to promote the industry and do the work that all the organizations do, like the Cattle Feeders’ and Stock Growers’ — everybody does good work and it’s important for all of us,” said Sawyer.

“Our message to government is that a directional checkoff would be the worst of both worlds for everybody. It would really weaken our industry voice badly. Any further change to checkoff needs to come from the producers. We don’t want government telling us what we’re going to do with our money.”

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