“The refundable checkoff will make it difficult for us to operate and it will affect the national organizations that depend on Alberta.”
Delegates and directors to last month’s Alberta Beef Producers annual meeting gathered to make decisions they would rather not have faced. In an atmosphere of reluctant resolve, they passed motions to accommodate changes resulting from the provincial government’s legislation changing ABP funding from a mandatory checkoff to a refundable levy. This action leaves only the supply-managed dairy and poultry boards with non-refundable checkoffs in the province.
ABP representatives were advised by legal counsel Adrienne Waller that the marketing council had refused the ABP request to charge an administration fee to cover the costs of checkoff refund requests. This decision will see the full three-dollar checkoff returned to claimants including the five cents the ABP allows dealers to keep for collection costs. This process is similar to what is in place at other refundable checkoff commissions.
Questions were raised regarding the one-dollar national checkoff
and how that could become mandatory. The meeting was advised that a national agreement would have to be made between governments to make it mandatory. Marketing council manager Mike Pearson advised that this is not permitted at this time. Delegates did pass a motion to lobby the provincial government to allow for a mandatory national checkoff of one dollar.
Producer frustration with the new refundable checkoff was expressed by means of a number of resolutions that came up through the zone meetings. However resolutions regarding voting and identification of those requesting refunds were defeated. Delegates also defeated a motion that would see Livestock Identification Services collect and administer the ABP checkoff. Amendments were also made to other ABP regulations including changes to delegate and director representation.
Delegates also discussed the status of premise ID. A resolution to rescind ABP support for the plan was defeated. However, delegates did support resolutions to have the ABP
lobby against mandatory RFID tag tracking and to review the surcharge increase of the RFID tag.
ABP directors elected a new chairman to replace retiring Rick Burton of Claresholm. Chuck MacLean of Bow Island is the new ABP chairman. MacLean has served six terms with ABP, four of those as a board member and one year as chairman of the Cattle Feeder Council. He is also promotion committee chairman of the Canada Beef Export Federation. MacLean’s family is in the feedlot business in addition to their long-time livestock dealer business.
The new board will face real financial challenges as ABP is projecting an over 50 per cent reduction in checkoff income over the few years. Maclean said that the ABP will continue to carry out programs as best it can under the new financial constraints.
“The refundable checkoff will make it difficult for us to operate and it will affect the nat ional organizat ions that depend on Alberta like CCA, BIC and CBEF,” he said. In addition he feels that the ongoing division in the cattle industry is damaging its future and steps need to be taken to change the acrimony.
Elected to the ABP executive committee were Doug Sawyer of Pine Lake as vice-chair and Dave Solverson as finance chairman. Rick Burton remains on the committee as past-chair.