Stakeholders call for lone national beef marketing body

“Canada Beef,” a marketing and promotion organization handling domestic and international work now done by three agencies, is the recommendation of the stakeholder group tasked with their restructuring.

The Canada Beef Working Group (CBWG) on Thursday recommended creating a “single independent national beef cattle marketing and promotion organization” merging the Beef Information Centre (BIC), Canada Beef Export Federation (CBEF) and Canadian Beef Cattle Research, Market Development and Promotion Agency (National Check-off Agency).

The group recommends the new body be dubbed Canada Beef, “to position Canadian beef as the premium beef product of choice for domestic and international consumers.”

CBWG’s recommendations now go to the boards of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), BIC, CBEF and the National Check-off Agency for each to consider, the group said.

If supported, the recommendations would go to special general meetings of CCA and CBEF members for approval.

As the major funders of marketing and promotion work, cattle producers “have been requesting a new organizational structure that would be more efficient and nimble,” CBWG co-chair Brad Wildeman said in a release Thursday.

“Combining the three entities will reduce costs through simplified funding administration and eliminate duplication.”

As well, “companies that we have partnered with to market and promote Canadian beef will continue to be able to work with the industry in the same way, but without membership fees,” co-chair Brian Ross, an Estevan, Sask. producer and CBEF director, said in the same release.

An estimated additional $1.3 million per year would then be available to maintain marketing programs and services, the equivalent of national check-off revenue from 1.3 million cattle marketings, Wildeman said.

The CBWG recommends a single body be created by restructuring the National Check-off Agency, which would then assume the responsibilities, programs and “core functions” of all three organizations.

“Not only does this respond to requests from producers, but it also fully utilizes the structure and authority of the National Check-off Agency,” said Wildeman, a former CCA president and head of cattle feeding firm Pound-Maker Agventures at Lanigan, Sask.

The new body would be governed by one board with at least 12 members and a structure that consolidates responsibility to that board and one senior officer.

“This will provide a single standard marketing plan and set of performance metrics for the Canadian industry,” the group said.

Beef research responsibilities would remain assigned to the Beef Cattle Research Council, the CBWG added.

“Due diligence”

The CBWG, which has looked at restructuring options for the past five months, also studied current funding delivery systems and recommended changes to “streamline the funding process” and thus cut costs.

Those would include dissolving the Global Marketing Advisory Committee, and reducing the role of the Canadian Cattlemen Market Development Council.

That council oversees an $80 million Legacy Fund, made up of federal and Alberta government contributions and due to expire by 2015.

The CBWG’s mandate was 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.”

Its 13 members, Wildeman and Ross included, represented the CCA, BIC, CBEF, the National/Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association and the major packers (XL Foods and Cargill).

The group noted its report was reviewed before Thursday’s release by the George Morris Centre, the Guelph-based ag industry think tank, and by consultant Brian Hayward, a former Agricore United CEO now heading Aldare Resources.

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