The alleged non-payment of a cattle buyer who went bankrupt earlier this year sparked calls for more stringent regulation of provincial bonding and licensing practices at a Manitoba Beef Producers annual district meeting.
Lyleton-area rancher Tim McMechan, who was never paid the $50,000 value for a load of 36 cattle he sold to a buyer operating under the name G&M Trucking, called for MBP to lobby for better regulatory oversight of the business.
Gerald Ballegeer, owner of G&M Trucking, filed for bankruptcy protection in late February, and reportedly left a number of ranchers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan with up to $2 million in losses.
If you steal one animal, you re a cattle rustler. If you steal a whole bunch of loads, you re a businessman, said McMechan.
He added that trying to secure payment for his lost cattle has left him disillusioned with the system, and the fact that it is considered a civil, not criminal matter, means that disreputable dealers can walk away virtually Scot-free if they go broke.
Introducing debate on the resolution, Ted Artz, MBP district 1 director, said that it has long been his position that the defined ownership of cattle should not be transferred in the eyes of the law unless the original owner has been satisfactorily paid.
To this day, it has not happened, said Artz.
Brock Taylor, who operates Taylor Auctions in Melita and serves as vice-president of the Manitoba Livestock Marketing Association, said that the province s bonding requirements for licensed dealers are a joke.
With as little as a $40,000 bond, a person can get a dealer s licence and legally buy and sell cattle, he said.
Non-licensed cattle buyers must pay before the cattle leave his auction mart, while licensed dealers have up to 24 hours to pay.
Taylor added that if he gives a dealer three days to pay, his own bond is void because he is deemed by his insurance company of extending credit to the buyer.
I got a $75,000 bond and it cost me $850 to get it, said Taylor, adding that his auction mart is small. Getting a bond of $2 million would be extremely costly, and it would be almost impossible to find an insurance company to guarantee it without full collateral.
Cam Dahl, MBP general manager and formerly a commissioner with the Canadian Grain Commission, noted that in total, licensed grain companies carry roughly half a billion dollars in bonds.
Raising the required bonding amount would severely limit the number of buyers in the grain market, and prices might suffer due to reduced competition, he said.
I know it is a barrier to entry, said Dahl.
McMechan said that he was told by a provincial government official that if the licensing and bonding requirements were beefed up, there would be less than three eligible livestock buyers in the province.
Steve McMechan, another producer at the meeting, said that the issue lies in the legal definition of ownership.
If I don t get paid for the cattle, then they were never anybody else s but mine, he said. Change the ownership rules for cattle or all types of commodities so that, until they are paid for, the ownership doesn t transfer. It s not complicated.
Buyers who accept cattle knowing that they can t pay for them should be charged with theft, he added.
Tim McMechan said that a special RCMP investigator on his case has been struggling for months on the single issue of who actually owns the cattle he lost. daniel. [email protected]
Ifyoustealoneanimal,you reacattlerustler.Ifyoustealawholebunchofloads,you reabusinessman.