The Manitoba Beef Producers will have a few more bullets in its gun after cattle producers voted overwhelmingly in favour of increasing the organization’s provincial check-off by $1.
Approximately 70 producers supported the resolution at MBP’s 35th annual general meeting in Brandon yesterday. Only five producers opposed the motion.
The motion means a $4 per head check-off will be collected at the point of sale on all cattle sold in Manitoba. Of that, $3 will go toward funding the MBP activities, while the remaining $1 will go toward the National Check-Off Agency.
Tyler Fulton, who farms near Birtle, was one of four producers who spoke in favour of increasing the organization’s funding.
"Truly this is an investment in order to sustain the future of the organization and our industry," Fulton told a full conference room at the Victoria Inn.
Fulton pointed to strong prices, new trade agreements and MBP’s diminishing revenue as reasons to support the motion.
Last year, the non-for-profit organization lost $4,700. Revenues are down 11 per cent compared to the five-year average.
The additional $1 will help generate approximately $500,000.
One producer spoke against the increase, believing it is too large of a hike at one time.
The decision to increase the check-off is a microcosm of the optimism in the cattle industry right now.
A decade of misery ensued after a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was detected in 2003. The fallout resulted in countries closing their borders to Canadian beef and sent prices plummeting.
Today, on the heels of a new trade agreement with the European Union, which still needs to be ratified, and strong market prices, the cattle herd in Manitoba is expected to begin to rebound after years of contraction.
MBP general manager Cam Dahl said the money will be used in a variety of ways, including lobbying the government, field research, and producer and public education.
Some of the resources will be used to develop a beef demonstration site near Brandon. The organization believes it’s important after the federal government cut the beef research program at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Brandon Research Centre last year.
Producer Ian Robson took issue with producers being asked to fund a service that was once provided by the government.
"We can’t control what other organizations do," Dahl said, adding the demonstration site will have three concrete objectives.
"One of those is to demonstrate the applicability of research done in other areas," Dahl said. "Secondly, we have to demonstrate that research to producers in our area and talk to them about management practices that might work for them."
Finally, Dahl said it’s important to inform the public about the industry’s solid environmental practices and track record.
MBP president Trevor Atchison lauded a new federal livestock price insurance program that will be available to Manitoba producers.
The Western Livestock Price Insurance Program was announced at a press conference in January with representatives from Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia
Manitoba officials were absent due to provincial election laws that prohibit the province being a part of any funding announcements during a byelection.
"Beef producers require strong, bankable risk mitigation tools," Atchison said. "The combination of the new livestock price insurance and the revisions to forage insurance that were announced this past fall will give beef producers a strong and bankable risk management package. This could fundamentally change beef production in this province."
The new program will be a four-year pilot administered by Alberta’s Agriculture Financial Services Corporation while the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation will be the service delivery agent.
Atchison, who farms near Pipestone, is stepping down from the board after several years serving as president.
He believes the cattle industry is undergoing a renaissance and is proud of the work the MBP has accomplished, including continued efforts to eliminate tuberculosis near Riding Mountain National Park, helping open trade opportunities, the ongoing fight over country of origin labelling and investing in research.
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