Beef producers got a provincial boost to their promotion and public trust efforts during the last days of October.
Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler proclaimed Beef Week Oct. 24, one day ahead of Ag Ex in Brandon, one of three major fairs run by the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba and host to Manitoba’s largest all-breeds cattle show.
“We’re just encouraging more people to think about growing beef in Manitoba in light of our soils and ability to be able to adapt to our grasslands to take advantage of them,” Eichler said.
Last year, Eichler said he would like Manitoba’s beef herd to reclaim levels not seen since the BSE crisis in 2003 when the province boasted about 750,000 beef cattle. The herd would have to almost double to reach that goal, industry said last year.
“It’s exciting for us and it’s important for us to have these sorts of events where it draws attention to our industry and draws attention to our industry for the right reasons,” Brian Lemon, Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) general manager said of the week. “Social media and the rest, it’s far too easy for people to get some misinformation, so it’s an opportunity to draw attention to the good work that our industry does and the good work that our producers do and we certainly appreciate the province and the minister of agriculture taking the time and drawing attention to our industry by signing the proclamation that this week is Beef Week.”
Beef Week has historically been tied to Ag Ex, the most cattle-focused event put on by the Provincial Exhibition. This year is no exception.
Over 700 commercial and purebred cattle arrived on the Keystone Centre grounds Oct. 25-28. This year’s AgEx also hosted the Canadian National Charolais Show, drawing participants from Ontario to Alberta.
“The Livestock Expo, or Ag Ex, is an important event for our industry,” Lemon said.
“While it’s focused mostly, I guess, more so on the purebred breeds, those are the seedstock for the commercial herds. It is all part of the beef industry.”
Beef Week 2017 also lines up with the start of Manitoba Beef Producers district meetings. Members will meet at 14 locations across the province by mid-November.
MBP president Ben Fox also attended the proclamation signing Oct. 24. Fox pointed to producer-led environmental efforts, something the industry often faces backlash from the public on in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
Fox, however, pointed to ongoing efforts on forage management, carbon sequestration, soil health and sustainable management. MBP has recently joined projects like the Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiatives, a research site exploring grazing systems and soil, among other environmental studies.
“As has been well documented, these properly maintained pasture lands act as carbon stores, are critical for water management and flood mitigation and also provide vital habitats for many species of plants and animals,” he said. “Producers in our province take great pride in producing world-class beef, but they also take pride in the practices they use each and every day on the farm.”
The proclamation echoed a similar announcement by Brandon Mayor Rick Chrest Oct. 11. He also named Oct. 23-28 Beef Week.
“Agriculture is the bedrock of Brandon and area, and livestock production is an ever-important sector to our economy,” he said in an Oct. 11 release. “We are pleased to help showcase all of those who continue to make beef production such a growing and progressive industry.”
Manitoba Beef Producers has not launched a specific hashtag for the week, but Lemon urged the public to use their regular hashtag, #MBbeef, on social media.