“Canada Gold Beef is not for everyone. You need to look at the program with long-term vision, not short-term gain.”
Canada Gold Beef has set up shop next door to feedlot alley. The beef marketing company opened its office in Picture Butte in October and is now serving feedlot operators and cow-calf producers throughout Alberta and beyond.
Mike Pollard, manager of producer relations and logistics for Canada Gold Beef, says he’s fielding calls from as far away as northern British Columbia and southeast Saskatchewan.
Most of the calls are from cow-calf producers asking about the benefits of signing up and price discovery.
“We’re encouraging producers to sell directly to the feedlots, since this cuts out extra costs associated with the auction markets, including transportation and handling fees,” says Pollard.
This practice, however, can leave producers wondering what’s a fair price for their cattle. Canada Gold Beef offers a competitive bid process to help co-ordinate pricing between feedlots and producers, although over time the two parties will deal directly with each other.
For its pilot project, which began in August, Canada Gold Beef is accepting up to 66,000 head (5,500 per month) of age-verified, source-verified, traceable British or British cross cattle. Those cattle will be finished at Canada Gold Beef-approved feedlots. The company is currently working with 10 feedlots in southern Alberta and continues to receive a high level of interest from cow-calf producers, although only about 5,000 Canada Gold Beef cattle have been placed so far into the various feedlots.
Twenty-six veterinarians have also signed up as Canada Gold Beef participants. Veterinarians are required to verify that cow-calf and feedlot clients have implemented all of the Canada Gold Beef program requirements before those operations can be registered and sell cattle within the program.
With kill dates for the first Canada Gold Beef animals in summer 2009, the next step for Canada Gold Beef is to “work beyond the packer,” says Pollard, which includes marketing the product to consumers. In the end, Canada Gold Beef products will be labelled with the company’s logo, guaranteeing high-quality, premium Canadian beef.
“Canada Gold Beef is not for everyone,” says Pollard. “You need to look at the program with long-term vision, not short-term gain.”
Pollard, who was raised on a cow-calf operation in central British Columbia and spent 15 years working at feedlots in southern Alberta, is familiar with all aspects of cattle production. He says that some producers are doing some test sampling – that is, purchasing participation units for a small portion of their herd under the program – to see how the company performs before committing more cattle.
One participation unit allows the owner to market one animal through Canada Gold Beef and receive any direct savings and premiums arranged by the company. There is a minimum 50 head commitment required.
Pollard and project co-ordinator Tess Pritchko at Canada Gold Beef’s office offer cow-calf producers and feedlot operators information about the company and an avenue to sign up for the program. More details and applications are available on the Canada Gold Beef website.