Refundable or not? Alberta beef producers to vote on check-off dollars

On Friday, Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) will have their plebiscite vote available to its members. Ranchers are being asked if their provincial check-off dollars should be refundable or non-refundable.

Voting will take place at various ABP fall meetings across the province from October 19th until November 13th. There’s also the option to vote at any of the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation offices, and you can vote by mail; however, with the potential for a Canada Post strike, it’s recommended you cast your vote in person.*

ABP Chair, Charlie Christie says the vote is happening now because producers have resoundingly voted every year at their fall meetings since about 2010 to get back the non-refundable payment.

He adds this vote is crucial to see what producers truly want in the province and they wanted to be sure the Alberta Cattle Feeders Association (ACFA) were a part of this.

“They’re a really big part of our industry, they pay a lot of check-off,” he says. “So we’ve signed a deal with them to work with them in the hopes that collaborating with them will save money and will make us much more efficient as an industry going forward.”

Already, cattle producers in Alberta pay a check-off of $4.50, with $2.50 non-refundable to the national check-off. That portion of the money goes to fund Canada Beef inc. and the Beef Cattle Research Council.

Since 2010, more than $20 million dollars has been refunded to producers. Many producers tell ABP they believe that amount of money would generate greater benefits if invested in industry initiatives.

With that in mind, if the provincial check-off becomes non-refundable, the plan would be to create the Alberta Beef Industry Development Fund (ABIDF). Plans for the ABIDF and an agreement between ABP and the ACFA on the allocation of a non-refundable check-off were the reasons ACFA is supporting the plebiscite.

The basis of a non-refundable check-off is our plan to create the Alberta Beef Industry Development Fund (ABIDF). The potential return value of a non-refundable service charge would provide approximately $1.4 million annually specifically for the ABIDF.

The development fund would focus on strategic investments of producer check-off dollars in research and technology transfer, market development, education, consumer advocacy, and industry collaboration.

Plans for the ABIDF and an agreement between ABP and Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association (ACFA) on the allocation of a non-refundable check-off were the reasons ACFA is supporting the plebiscite.

In a news release, Ryan Kasko, ACFA Chair says, “I encourage all cattle producers to vote this fall in the plebiscite to decide on funding for the future of your industry. ABP and ACFA have committed to working together on trade challenges, farm safety issues, investing in research and many other important issues facing the cattle industry. Please get out and vote.”

According to the news release, under the proposed funding structure, ABP would retain $1.35 per head of the $2 check-off, which is roughly the amount ABP currently retains after refunds are issued.

The ABP allocation includes 53 cents per head to support the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and a rebate paid to check-off remitters, currently five cents per head. ABP and ACFA agreed that 40 cents per head, close to $1.4 million per year, would be contributed to the ABIDF. Twenty-five cents per head, around $850,000 per year, will be allocated to ACFA to cover operational costs and their commitment to the National Cattle Feeders’ Association. Producers who do not want 25 cents per head to go to ACFA may apply to have this money allocated to the ABIDF.

*To register and request a mail-in ballot, or for questions about the voting procedure, contact the Returning Officer at 1-855-667-3311 or email: [email protected]

 

Jessika Guse

Jessika Guse is RealAgriculture's newest field editor and news lead for RealAg Radio. She's been a reporter since 2015 and has covered a variety of topics including one of her favourites, agriculture! Although she's never grown up on the farm, she loves helping out and learning as much as she can when she visits her families heritage farm near Ebenezer, Sask. You can find Jessika on Twitter at @JessikaGuse

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