Manitoba Beef Producers is prepping for its annual general meeting next week with drought, mental health and economic stability sitting at the centre of the agenda.
The 43rd Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) annual general meeting will take place on Feb. 10 via Zoom. While MBP members are disappointed they will be unable to meet in person as planned due to COVID-19 public health measures, general manager Carson Callum hopes producers will participate in the important event.
"We had a tough year last year, 2021, with the drought conditions and various other impacts on the sector. It’s important for people to try and tune in and get an update on various pieces of things happening within the centre and just try and connect with us to ensure they know what going on and what we’re doing on their behalf," Callum said.
There is a general sense of optimism heading into the 2022 AGM, fuelled largely by the moisture seen in the province and the government supports in place to help with feed sourcing to counteract the effects of extreme weather.
The AGM will feature discussion and information about on-going governmental supports to remind producers of available resources through an industry knowledge session that will include information on BRM Programs for operations and speakers Jared Munro, the president and CEO of Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation, and Steve Funk, director of ag risk management resources with MNP.
"We always are focusing on business management tools that are kind of annual supports systems or factors, but things like AgriRecovery did come out when needed and we were happy that dollars were committed this past year for supporting producers in the challenging time as a result of the drought," Callum said.
Callum cautioned challenges still face beef producers in the province, even if the moisture seen over the winter is shaping up for a better summer.
Last year, many producers were forced to sell cattle early due to the adversity created by the drought, especially at the height of the extreme weather because they did not have feed available.
The AGM will highlight the new herd management program announced as part of AgriRecovery that aims to help producers buy back animals farms were forced to sell during the drought. Callum noted livestock are the key economic drivers on the farm, and it has a big impact on producers when they are forced to sell these products early.
A market update will be provided by Brian Perillat of Canfax, giving an overview of the economic status of the industry.
MBP will work together to generate ideas for the next policy framework to establish programs that can help producers in the long term at both the provincial and federal levels. The next policy framework is an FTP (federal-territorial-provincial) agreement that includes all levels of government.
Manitoba Agriculture Minister Derek Johnson will be speaking and an appearance from Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has been requested.
The business portion of the AGM will include a report from Manitoba Beef Producers president Tyler Fulton, Callum, the finance chair and the introduction and ratification of MBP directors.
Mental health will be a key topic at AGM, Callum said, explaining between the pandemic, weather patterns and other ongoing challenges are impacting producers’ overall mental health.
This has led to mental health and wellness becoming an increasingly important and needed conversation.
"I think it’s always been an issue that producers have struggled with and it’s just good to see that it’s becoming more in the forefront and it’s not so much of a stigma to talk about mental health challenges in the ag sector," Callum said. "It’s becoming more and more commonplace which is really good to see."
Mental health discussions will include a presentation from keynote speaker Youtuber Quick Dick McDick, aka. Dickson Delorme from Saskatchewan, before wrapping up the day with closing remarks from Fulton.
The supply chain has continued to be a concern since the onset of the pandemic and producers are still seeing disruptions due to many factors adding to uncertainty in the industry. Callum said these conversations fold into an ongoing discussion around labour demands in the agriculture industry overall.
"I think labour in our sector is definitely challenging, maybe not as much as some of the other agriculture sectors that rely on say temporary foreign workers coming in. Cow-calf productions in the province, which Manitoba is generally a cow-calf province, a lot of the time it’s family-operated, but there are external hires for sure, and we’re seeing that labour pinch for sure in the beef sector," Callum said.
Cattle producers experience labour shortages in different ways — the impact may not be felt directly on the farm, but they can feel the secondary impacts of shortages in the trucking industry or anywhere else along the supply chain.
Part of the mission of MBP is to cover what they do for public promotion to drive the industry forward. Part of this duty is helping the general public to understand what these impacts have had on the beef industry and producers in Manitoba.
"It’s just ensuring we’re getting that message out to the general public who doesn’t have that connection to the farm and ensuring we’re getting our board and various members within the sector to advocate for the industry because they’re the perfect image," Callum said. "They are the ones doing it day to day."
» Twitter: @The_ChelseaKemp