WSGA opinion expressed in the Western Producer – keep check-off dollars voluntary!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

By MARY MACARTHUR, Camrose Bureau

The Western Stock Growers' Association wanted the entire $3 beef checkoff to remain voluntary, but last week the Alberta government moved to make $1 of the fee non-refundable.

The refundable checkoff has been in effect for less than six months and the stock growers said more time was needed to evaluate its impact, said association president Bill Hanson.

"We want to encourage people as producers and businesspeople to make their own decisions, get the facts and keep the fully refundable checkoff just that – refundable."

The stock growers along with the Alberta Cattle Feeders Association (ACFA) lobbied the provincial government to make the $3 mandatory cattle checkoff refundable.

In April, the voluntary checkoff came into effect. In the first three months, the Alberta Beef Producers, the organization in charge of the check-off money, refunded more than $1 million to livestock producers.

Recently ABP and ACFA officials agreed the $1 national portion of the $3 checkoff should be made nonrefundable and recommended the change. The province complied.

Hanson said the stock growers and other cattle groups were excluded from the consultation.

"If the refundable check-off option is removed, grassroots producers will lose the leverage necessary to help direct changes at the national level."

The stock growers had hoped some of the check-off money would be directed to their organization to help more producers direct changes to the national cattle organization.

Alberta agriculture minister Jack Hayden said he was pleased ABP and ACFA worked together to recommend the resumption of the nonrefundable national checkoff.

Other News