In January, the National Beef Strategic Planning Group published its strategic goals for 2020 in a paper that brought to light the full depth of funding issues being faced by the industry.
“Since the National Check-off was introduced in 2002,” the report reads, “inflation and a reduced number of marketings resulted in less check-off collected, limiting resources.”
According to the BCRC, applied beef production research and technology transfer funding declined by 15% in 1994-95 and 30% between 1995 and 2008.
“What’s very clear now is if industry is not at the table investing, government is not at the table investing,”Andrea Brocklebank said in an interview with RealAgriculture.
Brocklebank is the executive director of the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC), Canada’s funding agency for beef research. The BCRC receives, on average, 15 cents for every $1 of the National Check-Off. That money is then used to leverage government funding.
One of the biggest challenges is that beef research has been looking at the issue of the day, Brocklebank said, not the whole portfolio.
“We’re not able to address all the areas we need to and we’re not able to access all of the government programming, or, you know, capacity. And that sends a signal to government that maybe it’s not a priority when in fact it very much is.”
Achieving the goals outlined in the National Beef Strategy is estimated to require an addition of $1.50 to the National Check-Off, for a total of $2.50/head or approximately $19 million.
Andrea Brocklebank, BCRC executive director, and Tim Oleksyn, BCRC chair and cattle producer, on beef research, funding and the potential for increasing the National Check-Off.