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2017: Cattle feeders’ year in review

This past year saw a number of challenges arise that gave cattle feeders cause for concern, such as changing legislation and regulations, taxation, and trade. At each step, the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association (ACFA) has played an active role in advocating and negotiating for our members.

Here are some of the major projects we worked on in 2017:

Strategic plan

In March, ACFA board members, staff and industry partners met to renew the organization’s vision, mission and strategic plan. Here is a summary of the outcome of those talks:

Vision: Champion a sustainable cattle feeding sector in Alberta.

Mission: Pursue innovative and collaborative solutions for a thriving Alberta beef industry

Strategic priority #1: Build ACFA membership by delivering value to our members.

Strategic priority #2: Engage with the provincial government to strengthen the health of the cattle feeding sector in Alberta.

Strategic priority #3: Collaborate with partners to advance the industry.

Strategic priority #4: Strengthen ACFA governance.

Advocacy

There were many issues affecting cattle feeders in 2017 in which ACFA played an active role in advocating for our members’ interests. These included:

    • The Lethbridge County head tax which would severely impact cattle feeders in that area, resulting in feedlot closures.
    • The provincial carbon levy which could add costs by as much as $6 to $7 per head.
    • Federal income tax changes that will harm the viability of family-owned corporations.
    • Infrastructure needs, which are not receiving adequate provincial or federal funding.
    • Labour shortages, ongoing issues with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), and proposed changes to the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP).
    • Farm safety, employment standards and the Employment Standards Code.
    • Trade, and access to new markets for cattle feeders.

Outreach

ACFA’s communications with stakeholders and the public included:

    • Key provincial government ministers, decision-makers, MLAs and MPs.
    • Members, industry and the media.
    • Feedlot tours for educators, students, and government officials.

Watch for status reports, as we continue to stay on top of these issues throughout the coming year.

Meeting with MPs helps foster understanding of cattle feeders’ issues

One of the primary mandates for both ACFA and NCFA is to act as an information source for government policy makers, and to build champions for Canadian agriculture and agri-food. 

Every year, when Parliament breaks for the summer, we get the opportunity to reconnect with MPs as they return to their constituencies. On Aug. 22, NFCA’s Bryan Walton, president and CEO, and Casey Vander Ploeg, vice-president, met with MPs and feedlot operators to discuss a number of pressing issues facing cattle feeders.

Who attended the meeting

The meeting was attended by Rachel Harder, MP for Lethbridge, Glen Motz, MP for Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner and John Barlow, MP for Foothills.

In addition to Bryan and Casey, the ACFA’s members were represented by feedlot operators James Bekkering, Leighton Kolk, Rick Paskal, Cody Schooten, Shane Schooten and Larry Sears.

Important industry issues to watch for

Meetings such as this provide an opportunity for a semi-formal conversation about the issues and concerns of cattle feeders. This gives their representatives in Parliament the information they need for informed and balanced decision making. Some of the issues discussed at the meeting included:

1) Trade. Always a top priority, the agenda included updates on the following trade issues:

    • Trade with China. John Barlow provided a report on a recent Governor General’s Mission to China, which he attended. In addition, a recent agreement to expand U.S. exports to China has left Canada behind, and the need for the federal government to secure the same access for Canada was discussed.
    • NAFTA, and its importance to the cattle feeding industry.
    • Trans-Pacific Partnership, which needs to be altered and rebooted since the U.S. has pulled out.

2) Labour, and the chronic agriculture labour shortage both in Alberta and throughout Canada.

3) Rural Infrastructure.

4) Transportation Regulations.

5) Canada Food Guide.

As with any such meetings, we are confident this meeting provided government officials with a better understanding of the issues facing Alberta’s cattle feeders, and how to support them as they continue to feed Canadians and contribute to the economy.

You can read more about the cattle feeders’ top issues in ‘5 feedlot issues to watch for in 2017’.

How these 4 strategic priorities will build a better Alberta cattle feeding industry

It is good governance for an organization to revisit its vision and mission to make sure it is meeting the needs of everyone it works with.

The ACFA did just that in March 2017 during a three-day strategic planning session in Canmore, AB that involved the board of directors, staff and industry partners. 

The goal was to make sure we are staying true to our mandate – supporting our members and the industry we serve. We also wanted to ensure our members are represented accurately and fairly when we work with our stakeholders, including partners and the provincial government. 

Our main areas of focus

Our first task was to identify the primary opportunities and challenges that affect Alberta’s cattle feeders. As we continue to strengthen our working relationship with all levels of government, we are primarily focused on the following:

Our vision and mission

Our March session also involved a close examination of our organizational vision and mission. Through constructive conversation and feedback, we developed statements that more accurately reflect who we are, what we do and what we will achieve.

Our new vision and mission are:

Vision: championing a sustainable cattle feeding sector in Alberta

Mission: pursuing innovative and collaborative solutions for a thriving Alberta beef industry

Our strategic priorities

Our updated strategic plan will help ensure ACFA remains accountable and relevant to itself, its membership, and our sector. We also want to make certain we communicate effectively with stakeholders and government.

As we implement our new strategic plan, association project areas will be reviewed and approved within the context of the following strategic priorities:

Strategic Priority 1 – We will build the ACFA membership by delivering value to our members

Strategic Priority 2 – We will engage with the provincial government to strengthen the health and vitality of the cattle feeding sector in Alberta

Strategic Priority 3 – We will collaborate with partners to advance the industry

Strategic Priority 4 – We will strengthen ACFA governance

Our ability to move forward with clarity on our top issues, our mission and vision, and our strategic priorities will help us more effectively support our membership, the cattle feeding sector and Alberta’s beef industry.

To learn more about our organization, check out ‘5 must-know facts about the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association’.