Alberta now the exception in national support.
Newly minted Agriculture Minister Jack Hayden surprised attendees at the Alberta Beef Industry Conference (ABIC) in Red Deer by stating that he is considering reinstating a nonrefundable cattle checkoff in Alberta. In response to a question from the audience, Hayden said that he is prepared to consider making the $1 per head national share of the $3 ABP checkoff non-refundable.
Hayden said Alberta was one of the first provinces to promote a national checkoff on cattle and it would not look right if Alberta did not participate at this time.
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, the federal government, provincial cattle organizations and provincial governments have spent the last 10 years putting into place the necessary federal and provincial legislation and regulations to allow the nonrefundable national cattle checkoff to be collected across the country on all cattle sales. The situation was slightly different in Alberta where the $1 per head checkoff was part of the $3 per head ABP checkoff. That national checkoff source was eliminated when the previous Agriculture Minister George Groeneveld made the ABP checkoff refundable through Bill 43.
A mandatory non-refundable national checkoff representing the majority of cattle production in the majority of provinces is required in order for the federal government to collect a similar checkoff on all cattle and beef equivalent imports into Canada. That move would equal the U. S. situation which sees all cattle and beef exports to the U. S. paying an U. S. national checkoff.
The minister’s musing on changes to the cattle checkoff caused considerable private discussion amongst the various
players in the highly politicized Alberta cattle industry. ABP chairman Chuck Maclean said that he liked what he heard from the minister, as it would restore financial stability to national beef programs like the Beef Information Centre, Canada Beef Export Federation and national beef research programs.
The annual ABIC event also saw the Beef Industry Alliance group unveil some of its ideas to help revitalize the cattle and beef industry. The BIA suggested that producers support an effort to buy the mothballed former Rancher’s Beef plant near Balzac. It was felt that by reopening the plant it could serve some of the existing and future beef branding marketing programs who at present are finding it difficult to have cattle processed in consistent and economic numbers. It was noted that a present the large plants are too large and the small abattoirs are too small to serve these marketing programs.
The ABIC also saw a tribute to former Agriculture Minister George Greoneveld.