Feedlot safety is a top priority for Alberta’s cattle feeders, but farming is unique, and the complexities of farm safety cannot be compared to any other sector. So how do you address safety in an industry where people often live where they work, raise their children there, and employ their friends and neighbours? Read more
Businesses across Alberta are bracing for the new carbon tax, wondering what effects the levy will have on their bottom line. So, when Jennifer Winter joins us at the Alberta Beef Industry Conference to speak about the cost of emissions pricing, the interest will be high. Jennifer is the director of energy and environmental policy at the University of Calgary, and we asked her for a few insights into the potential costs for the beef industry.
Jennifer explained that, since 2007, emissions from large emitters have been subject to a levy, but starting in January 2017, this system changed to a broad-based carbon tax on emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels.
“This means that, across Alberta, individuals and companies are going to be paying more for gasoline, diesel, natural gas and other fossil fuels,” said Jennifer. “For the agricultural sector, farm fuel is exempt, and so the impact will mainly be felt through natural gas price increases and indirectly through increased pricing from suppliers as they respond to the carbon tax.”
“The impacts will depend on how much fossil fuels each operation uses, and it is possible the carbon tax will make some businesses unprofitable,” continued Jennifer.
In addition to the exemption on farm fuels, the government has also placed a cap on the price of electricity.
How the carbon tax will affect the beef on Canadians’ plates
The most likely cost to Canadians will be an increase in emissions-intensive goods and services, such as gasoline. As for beef? Time will tell how much of a price increase Canadians will see at the store, or whether supply will be affected.
Check out ‘5 feedlot issues to watch for in 2017’, to learn about other issues that could affect Alberta’s beef industry this year.
Here at the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association we couldn’t truly represent the interests of our industry without input from our board of directors. Comprised of the men and women who work in the cattle feeding industry every day, our board helps provide direction for all our activities.
For this week’s post, we sat down with Ryan Kasko, CEO of Kasko Cattle Company in Coaldale, Alberta, and vice-chair of ACFA’s board of directors, for another installment of our meet the team series.
Ryan grew up just outside Coaldale, the son of a cattle dealer, but it wasn’t until after graduating from the University of Lethbridge, with a bachelor of management degree, that he became involved in the industry himself. At that time he joined his father’s business, and two years later they decided to buy a feedlot together.
That was 20 years ago, and Kasko Cattle Company now has feedlots in four different locations. As it has expanded, it has also provided opportunities for other family members – Ryan’s wife, Shannon, is the office manager, and his brother and brother-in-law, and their wives, also work in the business.
“It’s an exciting industry to be in,” said Ryan. “The technologies we are using today are really sophisticated, and we’ve made significant improvements over the last 20 years, in the way we manage people and how we take care of the animals – it’s an industry that’s just been constantly changing and it’s great to be a part of that change.”
Helping the ACFA represent a changing industry to the government
Ryan has been on the ACFA board for five years now, a responsibility he takes very seriously. “It’s important to serve the industry,” he said, “and I’ve done that in different organizations through the years. I think the ACFA does a very good job representing cattle feeders in Alberta and I thought it was important I take my turn.”
“There’s been a lot of things going on recently,” continued Ryan. “New laws around labour standards and safety, and initiatives like the carbon tax have significant impacts on our operations. The ACFA works with government to help them understand the industry, and what we do every day – to help them make decisions that are going to work for our industry and the people involved in it. As a board, we help provide the association with direction.”
The Kaskos at home
With four children – one in middle school, two in high school and one in his first year of college – Ryan and his wife have a very busy family. They enjoy watching basketball together, and while his kids also play, Ryan says that watching is enough for him. For stress relief, though, he plays squash and competes in triathlons.
In other posts in our meet the team series, we introduced you to Bryan Walton, CEO, Page Stuart, past board chair, Martin Zuidhof, board chair, Casey Vander Ploeg, manager of policy and research, and Jennifer Brunette, manager of events and member services.
When you think about the beef that’s served on your table, it might seem that the product hasn’t changed much during your lifetime. What has changed, though, is the business of beef production.
With the annual Alberta Beef Industry Conference approaching, from February 15-17, we thought it would be interesting to talk with long-time event master of ceremonies, Danny Hooper, to see what changes he has observed over the years.
As well as being conference MC for over a decade, Danny is a former page 6 columnist for the Edmonton Sun, a recording artist, motivational speaker, fundraising auctioneer and one-time host of the 790 CFCW morning show. He also comes from a farming background, having grown up on a cattle ranch in Tomahawk, Alberta.
Changing times have brought changing issues
We asked Danny what issues have come to the forefront during his time with the conference. “When I did my first year, it was right in the middle of the BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) crisis,” he said. “Since then, I’ve seen a succession of different issues. Tech is a big one – it’s interesting to see how technology changes the industry every year. Country of Origin Labelling has been another big topic. Other issues I’ve seen include the economy; the way that changing demographics, as well as social and cultural norms, affect beef producers; politics; regulation and more.”
Food safety in Canada
Danny also said that food safety has been a constant theme at the conference, and he’s always been impressed at the high standards followed by the industry. “I recently returned from a three-week trip to Bali,” he said, “and that was a real eye opener. You can’t drink the tap water, even in a nice hotel, and you’re always wondering about the safety of the food you’re served. In Canada, you don’t have to give food safety much of a thought.”
The adaptability of Canadian beef producers
As consumer demands change, Danny noted, the industry has been able to adapt and respond. “There’s so much information out there, both good and bad – and a lot of misinformation – and it travels at the speed of light. It can affect consumer choices very quickly, and at the other end of the scale, the producers,” he said. “Food producers have to respond, and often have to respond quite quickly, and I think overall they’ve done a very good job of it.”
Danny concluded our conversation with a couple of observations about the industry:
“To me, it’s always an eye opener what big business this is,” he commented, “and all the issues that the producers do face. I don’t think people are aware of that.”
“Another thing I’ve found interesting through the years is the custom branding. A lot of the small independent producers are doing a really good job of branding and marketing their farms and their products.”
To learn more about the consumer trends that affect the beef industry, check out last week’s blog post: ‘Changing demographics mean changes at the dinner table.’ And stay tuned for more from conference speakers in the upcoming weeks.
Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association
6-11010 46 ST SE, Calgary, AB, T2C 1G4
- 2019 Annual Report and Video January 13, 2020
- Alberta Beef Industry Needs Regulatory Change To Remain Competitive January 7, 2020
- Alberta Beef Producers and Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association Collaboration Update November 6, 2019