Manitoba Beef Producers is back in black — black in, that is.
A surprise swing in marketed cattle left the organization well ahead on its financials, after initially projecting a $136,100 deficit in 2017.
Instead, MBP ended the year with a $214,700 surplus, according to financial documents presented during regular district meetings this fall.
MBP general manager Brian Lemon pointed to a higher-than-expected provincial checkoff in 2016-17. The Manitoba Beef Producers is funded solely by the $3-per-head fee collected for each animal sold in Manitoba.
In 2016-17, MBP collected $1.48 million, 8.8 per cent higher than the year before and 11.6 per cent higher than the $1.33 million five-year average. The producer group saw 493,000 head sold in the last year, up from 453,300 the year before.
The surplus is a departure from last year, when MPB reported an $18,400 deficit.
Lemon said extra funds will buffer against future deficits and possibly bolster MBP’s programming.
Lemon said the organization cannot point to any major shift that might explain the increase in marketed cattle.
“It’s more a function of how we estimate and the conservative approach of the board in terms of estimating revenues for our budget,” he said. “The board, when we put it together, we have quite a discussion around what do we think the marketing is going to be for the next year and the board has typically been a fairly conservative board.”
The board typically opts for the lower end of its estimated revenue range when developing the budget, Lemon added.
The checkoff applies to all cattle sales, although Lemon noted that there are likely a number of sales they do not benefit from, such as small private sales between two farmers where the checkoff is neglected.
The Manitoba Beef Producers is unsure how many sales might be skipping over the fee.
The organization also “held the line” on refunds, members were told.
MBP typically returns 10-12 per cent of checkoff dollars on average. The producer group sat solidly in that range in 2016-17, with $161,200, or 10.9 per cent of collected funds, sent back to 161 producers across the province.
National checkoff increasing
Farmers are bracing for the expected national checkoff increase, promised to take effect in early 2018.
The national checkoff, applied alongside the provincial checkoff, is set to increase from $1 to $2.50 per head.
The increase is meant to support National Beef Strategy objectives, including research, industry promotion, market development and issues management.
The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC), one of the groups set to benefit from the jump, says funds will support continued research in forage and grasslands, feed grains and efficiency, sustainability and productivity, animal health, alternatives to antimicrobial use, food safety and meat quality, as well as better disease and antimicrobial resistance monitoring.
“Some research outcomes identified under the National Beef Strategy cannot be achieved at current funding levels,” the BCRC said in a published fact sheet on the increase. “There simply aren’t enough industry research dollars available to support all the research projects, positions, and facilities that we need. The increased Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off will build research capacity and program funding in areas that have been on the decline in Canada.”
Currently, each national checkoff dollar sends 14.5 cents for research. Of that, MBP streams 7.5 cents to specific projects, while the rest is allocated through the Beef Cattle Research Council.
Canada Beef has also pitched the increase. The organization says its portion of any jump will go to opening markets, supporting consumer-directed programs, driving up demand and brand building.
MBP already backed the move in 2016. It has also said, however, that Manitoba will make no move to increase the national checkoff until Alberta and Saskatchewan adopt the new price.
MBP is looking for public input on the national checkoff jump. A town hall is planned for Dec. 7 in MacGregor.