Beef producers in the province are facing some uncertainty and a lot of that came out in meetings recently.
The final members’ regional meeting for the Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) in Zone 6 was held Nov. 1 in Ponoka, which saw around 50 people come by to find out more about the previous year’s activities and just how the ABP is looking to address various concerns the industry currently has in front of it.
The meeting was operated a bit differently than in past years, with members participating in a round table discussion about areas of concern and maybe some solutions that could help alleviate those issues or an avenue that should be explored that could lead to a solution.
Among the issues raised were the provincial legislation on farm safety as well as the state of cattle prices and both succession planning, plus finding ways to encourage younger people to get into the business.
Bluffton area producer Assar Grinde, who is an ABP delegate for the region, pointed out that the volatility of prices is most concerning for cow-calf producers like himself.
“It was how huge and fast the drop in prices was that shocked most producers, since we knew that was coming,” he said.
“What’s more difficult is for those that bought calves in the first half of the year. They are in a tough situation now over those buying now because prices fell so sharply.”
Meanwhile, Bashaw rancher and zone delegate, Kolton Kasur, stated that other producers in the room were focused on concerns surrounding two pieces of provincial legislation — the farm safety Bill 6 and the looming carbon levy.
“Producers are hit with low prices then throw in Bill 6 and the financial changes that came with it, it has been a difficult year,” he said.
“And while dyed fuel will be exempt, there is so much more to the carbon tax that will all be passed along to producers whocould not get ahead when prices were high, but that are just now catching up.”
Grinde was pleasantly surprised with how the revised format of the meeting was accepted and really did bring out more suggestions and ideas.
“This new format was a direction the ABP board wanted to see in hopes of getting more engagement from producers,wanting to get them more involved in the meeting and in the process,” he stated.
“I thought there were a lot of good things brought up and that we can take back with us to the board and the annual general meeting.”
One topic that came up at all three meetings in the zone was around keeping operations running in the future, mainly how to keep young people from leaving farm life behind.
“Succession, or better put, how to pass it onto younger people, is a legitimate concern out there,” said Kasur, who represents the ABP on the Young Cattleman’s Council (YCC).
“(The YCC) is one of the steps taken a couple of years ago as a need to try and get young people, who are producers, more involved.”
The hope is that a variety of different ideas and networking with other young producers will be a positive in the long run.
Members also watched a video that presented the highlights of the ABP 2016 annual report and passed one resolution the zone delegates will now take to the annual general meeting next month.
That resolution is for the ABP to actively lobby the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to not enact any legislation or regulations without first consulting with, and getting agreement from the industry.