The Manitoba Beef Producers is checking the herd.
District meetings launched Oct. 22 in the Interlake this year. MBP will spend the next month meeting with members in each of its 14 districts, ending in Oak Lake Nov. 15.
Predation is once again expected to feature prominently in discussions held north of the Trans-Canada Highway.
Herd losses and proposed lobby efforts drew attention last year. District meetings in 2017 saw six resolutions on predation, all overwhelmingly approved at MBP’s annual meeting this February. Members urged MBP leadership to take the issue up with the province. Resolutions called for looser hunting restrictions by removing wolves from the list of big game animals, more provincial staffing to deal with problem wildlife, insurance based on fall prices, and a ban on bear baiting with meat or fat. Predatory birds also made that list, with producers calling for magpies and ravens to be added to insurance programs.
“Show me another individual where you could say, ‘I’m going to take 20 per cent of your livelihood out of your paycheque every week,’ because that’s what predation is doing to some of these guys and the losses are significant,” MBP general manager Brian Lemon said at the time.
MBP released a predation loss survey last year in the hopes of better qualifying the issue.
Despite hopes for change in 2018, MBP president Tom Teichroeb says there has been little movement on predation from the province this year.
“We hoped to have more momentum on that one,” he said. “We certainly met with (Manitoba) Sustainable Development early in the year. It looked as though we were going to gain momentum. That has not transpired into any positive conversation thus far.”
The lack of movement has been “extremely frustrating,” for MBP, Teichroeb added.
The board has also begun tentative work on the push for mandatory livestock inspections. The resolution scraped by with a 45-42 membership vote this past February, making it one of the most contentious resolutions of the AGM. Sponsors argued that inspections would provide more solid paper trails, proof of possession and are already present in other provinces. Critics, meanwhile, worried that the requirement would bog down sales and raise producer costs.
MBP leadership has discussed the recommendation, Teichroeb said, although the issue is “very sensitive.”
Traceability is expected to be another repeat subject, along with sustainability, research and trade. Last year, MBP urged producers to get a premise ID ahead of expected CFIA animal movement reporting changes. Producers would need the ID to complete required livestock manifests for shipping, producers were told.
MBP hopes to head at least one incoming issue off at the pass.
Health Canada rule changes have made antimicrobial resistance a hot topic for the livestock industry. As of Dec. 1 this year, producers will need a prescription to buy any medically important antibiotic, such as penicillin or tetracycline, for their herd.
Groups like MBP and the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) have urged producers to develop a relationship with their veterinarian ahead of the change.
“In most cases it isn’t a formal written agreement and in essence it is a relationship that develops between a veterinarian and a producer,” the BCRC posted on its website Sept. 10. “The veterinarian knows the operator, visits the farm or ranch to get an understanding of the operation, sees how animals are cared for and is confident the producer will be responsible in following medical advice and properly use any products as directed.”
Manitoba’s chief veterinary office will be out in force at all district meetings, Teichroeb has said. MBP has integrated veterinary presentations into each evening’s agenda.
“They’re going to try and give us a very direct, very straightforward message about where the industry is going to go and what producers need to know about that relationship and how you go about establishing that relationship as we move forward,” Teichroeb said.
The year’s weather and associated risk management programs may also feature. Forage harvest was hit hard this year with yields coming in far below normal and the industry warning of short feed supplies and a possible cull.
A full meeting schedule is available on the Manitoba Beef Producers website.