Beef checkoff agency to restructure as marketing body

A proposal to merge Canada’s national beef checkoff agency with its domestic and international marketing bodies will continue, as the checkoff agency moves to take back its marketing roles.

The National Check-off Agency — the nickname for the Canadian Beef Cattle Research, Market Development and Promotion Agency — announced Friday it now has “clear direction” from its board to accept the merger proposal recommended the previous week by the Canada Beef Working Group (CBWG).

Coming out of its annual general meeting Monday, the agency said Friday it’s created a draft agreement for provincial cattle associations to consider, in which the checkoff fund would collect and allocate the funds for national marketing and research programs on behalf of the industry.

The agency’s draft plan delegates responsibility for implementing the CBWG recommendations to a “Canada Beef Implementation Team.”

That team, the checkoff agency said, “will be charged with developing the governance and marketing model for the restructured agency with full consultation of all stakeholders.”

The CBWG’s recommendations were first released in January this year and called for the establishment of a lone “Canada Beef” agency that would merge the Beef Information Centre (BIC), Canada Beef Export Federation (CBEF) and the National Check-off Agency.

Checkoff agency chair Marlin Beever said Friday that the agency’s funders “have made it clear that they want more direct accountability for the funds they provide for marketing and research, while at the same time creating mechanisms to ensure all stakeholders and the appropriate expertise are included in the development and execution of the marketing plans.”

The checkoff agency since 2002 has been the “central collector” of the mandatory $1 per head on all cattle marketed in Canada, with which it funds service providers to carry out beef marketing and research.

Under the new structure, the agency will still receive the checkoff and will contract research services to the Beef Cattle Research Council, but will itself set up and carry Canadian domestic and international beef marketing plans.

The agency said Friday the new structure would be “more consistent with (its) original mandate” to collect the checkoff and perform the research, market development and promotion activities for the beef industry, when it was created in 2002.

“With or without”

The CBWG, in coming up with its recommendations, was directed to consider “the long-term needs of the industry, the funding and marketing challenges that lie ahead, the contribution and needs of stakeholders, the results of a due diligence review of BIC and CBEF, previous studies, opportunities to simplify the funding and approval structures, and analysis of options.”

The working group had spent five months studying restructuring options as well as current funding delivery systems and ways to “streamline the funding process” and thus cut costs.

The CBWG’s 13 members represented the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, BIC, CBEF, the National/Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association and the major packers (XL Foods and Cargill).

According to the >Manitoba Co-operator on March 3, CBEF had been expected to approve the CBWG’s proposals at a special members’ meeting Feb. 17, but that meeting in Toronto broke up without voting on a merger resolution.

Canada’s provincial cattle associations then said they would move unilaterally to form the agency without CBEF having ratified the move.

“The merger will go on with or without CBEF,” Major Jay Fox, president of Manitoba Beef Producers, told Co-operator reporter Ron Friesen.

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