Manitoba’s beef farmers are having their say.
Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) is firing up for its annual district membership , with 14 gatherings planned around the province.
This year’s circuit kicked off in the Interlake with Eriksdale hosting the first meeting Oct. 23, with the last slated for Nov. 15 in Arden.
MBP general manager Brian Lemon says he expects meetings to cover profitability, herd growth—an ongoing topic since provincial Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler announced his goal to grow Manitoba’s beef herd to 750,000 by 2026—and reports of increased predation in the Interlake.
Traceability and a proposed cow/calf loss survey are also confirmed on the agenda.
“Certainly we continue to push forward towards a system of traceability where we can trace animals from their birth right through to harvest and that’s an important part of the national efforts to make sure that, should there ever be any sort of foreign animal disease or any sort of issue in our industry like a BSE, that we’re able to put a box around [it] and we can define where the cattle have been and which other cattle they’ve been in contact with,” Lemon said.
The loss survey has been released to producers before, he added.
“It really provides some really good baseline data to industry, to regulators, about where the industry’s at,” he said. “Where it’s growing and it’s sort of one of those foundational pieces that allows us to talk about our industry in a credible way.”
Manitoba Beef Producers will refill their roster by the end of the circuit. Elections will be held in seven districts, four of which are sure to bring in new faces.
Directors are elected for two years and may sit a maximum three terms, or six years in total.
Dave Koslowsky of southwest Manitoba, Heinz Reimer of southeast Manitoba, Bill Murray of western Manitoba and Stan Foster of northwest Manitoba will all pass the torch this year.
“Directors are asked to attend meetings,” Lemon said. “They’re asked to participate in discussions. They’re asked to support and bring the issues from their district forward. We have a number of sub-committees where directors are able to maybe get involved in particular issues that are of interest to them.”
Lemon noted that anyone claiming a seat at the table may move on to represent the province at a national level, including seats on the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, National Check-off Agency and Beef Cattle Research Council.
Turning to youth
New this year, 2017 will see the first Emerging Beef Leaders Forums, aimed at anyone from 12-18 years old.
The commodity group teamed up with the Manitoba 4-H Council on the initiative. Forums will take place alongside three district meetings, including the Eriksdale meeting, as well as upcoming dates Nov. 3 in Austin and Nov. 14 in Carman.
Clayton Robins, Manitoba 4-H Council executive director, said locations were chosen due to the number of 4-H clubs in the area.
“[MBP is] very interested in hearing the youth voice in their districts and, of course, linking with 4-H just makes so much sense because we have kids that are very much engaged with the beef industry very active in the 4-H program,” Robins said.
The participant-centred forums will be open to both 4-H and non-4-H members and will be attended by both the 4-H council and Manitoba Beef Producers officials.
Anticipated topics include entry barriers, aspirations for the overall beef industry and personal stories.
“It’s questions like, ‘What opportunities do you see for yourself to work in the beef industry? What can you do as producers to create a positive energy around public trust? How can we increase profitability and competitiveness in beef production in Manitoba?’ for example,” Robins said.
Lemon described the forums as a “mock district meeting” meant to engage youth and shine light on their areas of interest and concern.
“We’re starting with three,” Lemon said. “Who knows where this goes. If we have great uptake on it, maybe we do more next year…partnering with our district meetings was just a real convenient way and a nice way to give that opportunity.”
While not an official MBP district meeting, topics discussed at the forums may yet appear to the general membership, Lemon added.
“Who knows, if the right idea comes forward and it’s presented the right way and it finds support, it may find its way into the resolutions though a district and actually even to the AGM to become part of our policy,” he said.
Robins says that’s not necessarily the goal of the forums, but he would be pleased to see it if it happens.
The three emerging leader forums will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the same locations of the district meetings. Supper and the regular MBP meetings will follow at 6 p.m.
A full list of meetings and locations is available on the Manitoba Beef Producers website.