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New chairman named for Man. cattle council

A beef checkoff-funded Manitoba agency to build cattle slaughter and beef processing capacity in the province has named a new chairman.

Neil Van Ryssel, a dairyman and grain grower from Oakbank, about 30 km south of Selkirk, has been named by provincial Agriculture Minister Rosann Wowchuk to replace outgoing chairman Bill Uruski on the Manitoba Cattle Enhancement Council (MCEC).

Uruski, a former provincial ag minister (1981-87), has led the MCEC since its inception in 2006 but has “decided to spend more time to focus on family affairs,” the council said in a release Tuesday.

“Bill was an invaluable resource leading the council and I look forward to working with the rest of council to carry on the work that he helped start,” Van Ryssel said in the release.

“I am optimistic for the Manitoba beef industry as we work towards bringing new federally-inspected beef plant capacity and other value-added cattle projects to the province.”

“The MCEC team has worked tirelessly to get this council off the ground,” Uruski said. “It is a unique investment fund acting on behalf of producers that drives much needed new investment dollars into the cattle industry.”

The council has also elected member Albert Todosichuk as vice-chair and treasurer and member R. Harvey Harland as secretary. Shoal Lake cattle producer Don Yanick, another council member, also opted to step down this year due to family and farming commitments, the MCEC said Tuesday.

The council and its investment advisory committee are comprised of cattle industry representatives and investment specialists who administer an investment pool funded by a compulsory but refundable levy of $2 per head on all cattle produced and sold in Manitoba.

Funds raised through the levy were to be matched by the provincial government in the MCEC’s first three years. The province also provided the council with a $1 million start-up grant and a $10 million loan to accelerate projects quickly.

The levy is expected to raise about $1.1 million per year, before the province’s matching funds kick in. The province has said it plans to review its level of matching funding after three years.

The MCEC’s fund is to be used to support qualifying beef slaughter and/or processing projects that make a good business case, enhance the industry’s viability and/or offer producers new marketing opportunities within Manitoba.

Van Ryssel is no stranger to the business of farm funding agencies, having previously chaired the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council. He is currently president of the Oak Bank Credit Union and also chairs the Cooks Creek Conservation District.

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