The British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association (BCCA) has reached into the Alberta ranching community to pluck its new general manager. The BCCA has hired Kevin Boon as its new general manager, replacing Bob France, who retired at the end of October.
The Boon family hails from southern Alberta and has been operating a beef and grain operation in Tomahawk, Alta. Boon is a third-generation rancher and next year will mark 100 years that the Boon family have been ranching in Alberta. In addition to ranching, the Boons operated a small family-run restaurant in Tomahawk.
Most recently, Boon has been vice-chair of Alberta Beef Producers. He has also served on the boards of the Beef Information Centre and Canada Beef Export Federation. “I think he will be a good fit. He has lots of experience in the industry,” France said.
France retired from the BCCA after serving as its general manager for the past four years. He was seconded from his position as the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands beef industry specialist to serve as interim GM in Nov., 2005, and officially appointed BCCA GM in August, 06. “The whole four years have been tough and frustrating,” France said, saying the industry has been “sideways” since the BSE crisis hit in May, 2003.
“It’s been a lot of different things. Some were predictable but some came out of nowhere.” The “prolonged downturn” has caused the loss of a few B.C. cattlemen and the reduction of many B.C. herds.
“We’ve lost about 25 per cent of the industry in terms of the number of cows since January, 2003,” France notes, and projects there could be a few more losses before the situation turns around.
He notes the B.C. situation is exacerbated by a simultaneous downturn in the forest sector. “A lot of our members are also involved in forestry. It’s been a fallback for them but all of a sudden that’s not there either. That’s why our numbers have shrunk more than the national average.” With his retirement, France ends an association of well over 30 years with the B.C. beef industry.