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Alberta Beef Producers Logo Grass Routes Newsletter
October 13, 2017

In This Issue

ABP Fall Producer Meetings
Based on 2017 calf prices, how much did last summer’s cows in ideal condition earn?
Ecosystem Services
The Gatepost: Increasing the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off
Are your bulls actually siring calves? BCRC webinar November 16

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ABP Fall Producer Meetings

ABP prides itself on being an organization of producers, run by producers, speaking and working on behalf of the cattle and beef producers in Alberta. We believe that one of our highest priorities is communicating with grassroots producers and taking direction from these producers on the issues, priorities, and activities that we should be pursuing on their behalf. Our most effective venues for listening and speaking to producers are the Fall Producer Meetings that we hold in nine zones across the province in late October and early November each year. We try to make the meetings as convenient as possible for producers to attend and this year we have 25 meetings in locations intended to keep travel time down for producers.

The fall meetings are where producers elect delegates who will bring issues and concerns from their zone to the ABP Board of Directors and general meetings. The meetings also provide the opportunity for producers to speak directly to ABP producer representative delegates and directors about issues and concerns. We try to have at least one member of the Executive or the Executive Director at every fall meeting. We are a grassroots organization and we want producers to leave the fall meetings feeling like the meeting was worthwhile, their voice was heard, and they were able to provide direction to ABP. In addition to advertisements in papers and on the radio, fall meeting dates, times, and locations can be found on our website and at the back of the ABP Annual Report that is delivered to all producers on our mailing list. We encourage producers to come to a meeting and participate in setting the direction for your organization.

Based on 2017 calf prices, how much did last summer’s cows in ideal condition earn?

Because cows maintained with an ideal layer of fat cover will have higher reproductive efficiency, they positively impact an operation’s economics. Sorting and feeding groups based on body condition helps avoid over-feeding cows in adequate condition, particularly when only part of the herd needs extra feed.
As the cattle and feed grain markets change, the economic implications of maintaining the right body condition of cows also change. When calf prices move higher, the economic benefit of maintaining the right body condition score (BCS) is larger. Meanwhile, when feed costs are high, the cost of adding condition to cows will be higher.
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Ecosystem Services

Last January ABP’s Cow Calf Council formed an Ecosystem Services (ES) working group to better understand and approach the area with the intent of accessing payment for producers or landowners. The idea was thought to be straightforward – having producers obtain compensation for benefits they are already providing, or could provide, that benefit society.

In 2007, an ABP task force developed some guidelines around providing and assessing ecological goods and services compensation, including delivery of compensation for ES, voluntary incentives, and without regulations.

Since then ABP, the Canadian Cattleman’s Association and the agricultural industry have struggled with acceptable levels of ES programs supported by payments to producers. The concept seems practical but payment needs to come from somewhere beyond government programs.

Examples of ecosystem services provided include sequestering carbon to help remove it from the atmosphere, watershed protection, wildlife and habitat conservation, and recreational use. Paid hunting also falls under ES when producers provide wildlife habitat, and compensation to support doing so. Producers might be providing these ecosystem services, but a market must be created for them with a willingness to provide compensation. 

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The Gatepost: Increasing the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off

Through the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off, producers collectively invest in research, market development and promotion to achieve the industry's long term vision of a dynamic and profitable Canadian industry with Canadian high quality beef products recognized as the most outstanding by Canadian and world customers.

Both national and provincial groups across the country have been working hard on the National Beef Strategy to show the benefits that the industry could see from an increased check-off. Most provinces will have begun collecting an increased check-off of $2.50 (up from $1) sometime in 2018. To attain national treatment, and collect the equivalent amount on imported beef, the country needs to show a national collection of the $2.50. 

Producers across the country continue to ask the question: "What is the extra check-off investment going to do for me?"

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Are your bulls actually siring calves? BCRC webinar November 16

For producers that breed cows in large pastures with multiple bulls, it’s often assumed that all of the bulls will sire roughly the same number of calves. Research shows a surprising variation in the number of calves sired by each bull. Learn more by joining this webinar on how DNA parentage testing may help determine sire value on your operation.
When: Thursday, November 16 at 7:00 p.m.
Interested but aren’t available that evening?
Register anyway! This webinar will be recorded and posted online at a later date. All registrants will receive a link to the recording and additional learning resources. By attending the live event, you’ll have the opportunity to interact and ask questions too.
Click here to register.
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