Producers have an opportunity to exercise their opinion on the direction beef producers will go with the presently voluntary check off. I feel it’s important that consideration is given to both sides of the discussion. This letter to the editor takes into consideration the other side of this decision. We are presenting this with his permission;
Cattle and beef producers in Alberta are currently able to vote in a plebiscite on a non-refundable service charge (check-off) model for Alberta Beef Producers (ABP). Through this plebiscite, producers will make a decision on the future of their industry and funding of their organization. You will not be making a decision about the type of organization ABP will be, but about the funding model that will support the work we do.
ABP is, and always will be, a producer organization. We are an organization of producers, funded by producers, run by producers, speaking and working on behalf of producers. We hear suggestions that a refundable service charge makes ABP more accountable, but refunds don’t make accountability. They create uncertainty and make it difficult for ABP to make long-term investments based on direction from producers. Accountability comes from the democratic process in which our delegates and directors, first and foremost grassroots producers, are elected by producers in their respective zones.
ABP and our partners work diligently to ensure that producers receive substantial value for their investment of check-off dollars. A significant amount of the provincial service charge provides funding for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) which was influential in ensuring that the USMCA kept our duty-free access to U.S. and Mexican markets, and that the parliament and senate of Canada made us one of the first six countries to ratify the CPTPP. Provincially, ABP has been actively working with the provincial government and veterinarians to find dispensing options that will give producers timely and affordable access to prescription only antibiotics, working to address the wildlife conflict issues that are costing many cattle producers large amounts of money, and working to protect the interests of cattle and beef producers on grazing lease issues, OHS guidelines, and OHS Code requirements. ABP and CCA also lobby governments because producers tell us to do this work on their behalf.
If producers vote to make the $2 service charge non-refundable, ABP has committed to investing the majority of the amount currently being refunded, 40 cents per head or about $1.4 million annually, in the Alberta Beef Industry Development Fund (ABIDF). The ABIDF will make strategic investments in research, market development, education, consumer advocacy and industry collaboration activities to make the industry stronger and more profitable. ABP and the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association (ACFA) are already focused on informing and educating producers, consumers, government, and the public at large. We are seeking a non-refundable service charge to increase the funding we have available to do this important work.
The producers who run ABP and ACFA support a non-refundable service charge, but all cattle and beef producers in Alberta can participate in this decision by voting in the plebiscite. You are able to vote in the plebiscite at AFSC offices or by mail until November 27, 2018. We encourage producers to make your voice heard and please vote in the plebiscite.
Chair, Alberta Beef Producers