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Alberta Beef Producers Logo Grass Routes Newsletter
June 17, 2016

In This Issue

  • ABP Semi-Annual General Meeting
  • ABP Environmental Stewardship Award call for nominations
  • Verified Beef Production Plus Program officially launched
  • AgCoalition to host meetings across Alberta aimed at strengthening the producer voice during the Government of Alberta Farm Safety consultation sessions
  • Occupiers’ Liability Act part 2
  • Investigating retained ownership

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Informative general session at ABP Semi-AGM

ABP delegates, directors, staff members and a large audience of guests came together in Edmonton this week for a successful 42nd Semi-Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the organization. The Semi-AGM comes near the end of a busy time for producers and not all of our delegates are able to attend it, but we did have a strong contingent of committed delegates who participated actively in discussions of ABP operations and plans for the coming year. The delegates reviewed the strategic objectives that had been approved by the Board of Directors in the areas of Bill 6 regulations and standards, industry funding, crown land grazing dispositions, enhanced perceptions of Alberta Beef, added value from research programs, and improved policies and programs for managing impacts of wildlife on cattle producers. The delegates thought the objectives were ambitious and challenging, but were aligned well with industry priorities and certainly worth pursuing.
The two keynote speakers at the meeting provided excellent presentations that were well received by the delegates and guests. Dr. Sangita Sharma, of the University of Alberta, spoke about her work on nutrition for children, seniors, and disadvantage people. She told the audience that her research is finding that many children are not meeting their basic requirements for essential nutrients, all of which are found in abundance in meat. Dr. Tim McAllister, from the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Centre in Lethbridge, presented the findings from the first phase of his project assessing the environmental footprint of beef production. His research indicates that our industry can produce the same quantity of beef as 30 years ago using 29 percent fewer cattle in the breeding herd, 27 percent fewer slaughter cattle, 24 percent less land, and with a 15 percent reduction in carbon footprint.
In addition to the keynote speakers, the delegates were engaged and informed by the National Check-off Agency, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, the Beef Cattle Research Council, Canada Beef, and Canfax. Although cattle prices have come far off the record levels of a year ago, they are still higher than they have been for most of the last decade. We were pleased Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Oneil Carlier and his Chief of Staff, Tony Clark, attended the Semi-AGM banquet. The Minister brought greetings from the government in a short presentation to the delegates, and was able to stay at the banquet for several hours. We see our two general meetings as important opportunities for our delegates to get together and talk about our industry, the perspectives of grassroots producers, and the work that ABP does on behalf of these producers.

ABP Environmental Stewardship Award call for nominations

The Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) is seeking nominations for the 2017 Environmental Stewardship Award (ESA).
The ESA recognizes cattle producers whose natural resource stewardship practices contribute to the environment and enhance productivity and profitability. We are asking producers to take this opportunity to share the unique environmental practices employed on their operation and to present the positive story about cattle producers' contribution to the environment.
Nomination forms are available on the ABP website at, from the ABP office or from your local delegate. All cattle producers are encouraged to either enter or nominate another producer who is taking strides towards sound environmental production practices. 
A team of judges made up of ABP delegates, the 2016 ESA winner and an industry associate will review the submissions and tour the nominated ranching operations. Each applicant will be scored on predetermined criteria unique to the practices they implement in their business.
The winner will receive a commemorative gate sign, a video highlighting their ranching operation and an all expenses paid trip from anywhere in Alberta to the 2016 ABP Annual General Meeting in Calgary, where the award will be presented at a formal banquet. The competition is open to all cattle producers. Deadline for nominations is July 15, 2016 and the winner will be announced December 2016.

Verified Beef Production Plus Program officially launched

After months of hearing about the benefits of the Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) program, producers can now see for themselves how validating their sustainable production practices provides opportunity to proactively share their stories with consumers and beef retailers.

Officially launched this week, the new, national VBP+ program includes training and auditing for animal care, biosecurity and environmental stewardship along with on-farm food safety practices within the cow-calf and feedlot sectors. Through validating sustainable practises at the primary production level, VBP+ enables producers to publicly demonstrate their commitment to responsible stewardship of both cattle and resources.

The level of transparency VBP+ offers on a range of key production practices provides retailers and consumers with the knowledge that the beef they purchase is from a healthy animal raised with appropriate oversight and care on the farm, ranch or feedlot. These essential attributes are applicable throughout the beef production supply chain and are captured in a new impactful VBP+ logo.

VBP+ shows that Canadian beef producers are listening, said Alberta rancher and Chair of the producer-led VBP+ Transition Management Committee Cecilie Fleming. “Being a VBP+ registered producer enables beef operations to showcase the good production practises they commit to on their farms, ranches and feedlots as well as fosters continual improvements. VBP+ is a straightforward, practical and low cost program to implement yet contains the robust validation required to satisfy the retailer, other end users, and consumer needs. A voluntary program, VBP+ allows registered operations to be part of a bigger picture of raising beef cattle that can flow into the growing Canadian sustainable beef supply stream,” she said.

VBP+ is an expansion of the former Verified Beef Production on-farm food safety program. Work began in late 2013 to expand the program to include production practices validation in all areas of the beef production supply chain. National delivery and oversight of VBP+ maintains a conformance system and streamlines delivery of information, training, online tools and resources. Like the initial program, VBP+ remains voluntary and industry-led.

The VBP+ program has demonstrable and credible threshold levels producers must achieve to become, and maintain, registered status on the program. This progressive, audited program promotes continual improvements at the beef farm, ranch and feedlot level.

Fleming thanked those beef operators who have embraced and supported the evolution of the program into VBP+. “Expanding the VBP+ program gives beef producers another tool to credibly demonstrate that the beef industry is listening and responding to changing needs of its end users,” she added.

The VBP program grew from its roots in the Quality Starts Here program, an educational initiative started by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association to help the beef industry move toward the highest beef quality in the world.

VBP+ is operated by the Beef Cattle Research Council. Funds to develop and deliver VBP+ are provided through the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-off and Agriculture Canada's AgriMarketing Program - Assurance Systems Stream of Growing Forward 2.

AgCoalition to host meetings across Alberta aimed at strengthening the producer voice during the Government of Alberta Farm Safety consultation sessions

The AgCoalition will host three meetings across Alberta this month to engage farmers, ranchers and their employees on farm and ranch safety-related subject matter. The meetings are intended to gather input and strengthen the producer voice in preparation for the Government of Alberta’s consultation sessions.
The AgCoalition’s producer representation, known as the Industry Leadership Advisory Committee (ILAC), will host the meetings. ILAC representatives will invite producer peers and their employees to join them as meeting participants. Agriculture groups external to the AgCoalition will also be invited to send farmer and rancher representatives to further broaden industry consultation. 
“This legislation will have its greatest effect on farmers, ranchers and their employees,” said Page Stuart, AgCoalition Co-Chair. “Our intent is to ensure that this community has an opportunity to be part of the process and support our industry’s representation at the consultation tables.” 
Meeting participants will collaboratively determine priority issues for each topic and will develop consensus-based positions that will work best for farmers, ranchers and their employees. Input garnered from the meetings will in-turn be communicated to producer nominees participating in the government consultation sessions. Where required, the meetings will follow the same format as the consultation sessions with one working table per topic.
“We look forward to working together as a sector to develop key positions to ensure our consultation nominees are fully equipped to represent their industry,” said Kent Erickson, AgCoalition Co-Chair.
Meetings will take place in Lethbridge on June 22nd, Leduc on June 27th and Grande Prairie on June 30th. An independent third party will facilitate the meetings. The AgCoalition will compile the producer input to develop briefing notes for producer nominees at the Governments consultation sessions.

Occupiers’ Liability Act part 2

Last month we reported on some of the possible impacts of the Occupiers’ Liability Act to farmers and ranchers when someone comes onto their property. You can find it here:

The premise of the Occupiers’ Liability Act governs the responsibility of the landowner towards visitors regardless if they have permission to be on the land. In cases with injury or death negligence needs to be shown, and if the farmer was somehow negligent in communicating a situation on the farm that can cause a problem.

No trespassing or hunting signage may be a deterrent, as might locked gates and wire fences around the property. Obtaining signed waivers for hunters or recreationalist coming onto the land is one option and can help set rules. However, the courts can often find some fault with these, particularly if the problems were serious. The landowner has a duty to care for the guest by advising about any potential hazards.

Receiving a payment puts brings up another category. Landowners legally are not allowed to charge hunters to use the land for hunting, but some receive compensation by renting accommodations. Even a gift of some meat from the hunt is seen as payment for the use of the land. Payment for the land related experience with injury or death puts the negligence at a higher level.

A lot of farms have a minimum $1-2 million third party liability insurance. If sued, the landowner might be financially protected to this limit. A legal case study would need to determine the type of liability and the amount.

The question of grazing leases and rented properties came up, and with negligence the same rule holds. For most landowners the farm’s liability insurance would likely provide some level of protection for injury or death on the lease year round even though the producer only uses the land for five or six months out of the year. A producer who didn’t have a farm base but rented pasture would also have some protection under his house liability insurance. The recommendation was to perhaps have extended umbrella insurance for $2-3 million that identified the rented land, and specific perils.

ABP’s Wildlife Committee felt the information in the legal assessment was important to make available to all producers. The Occupiers’ Liability Act and a legal letter of review can be found on the ABP website at

Alberta Beef Producers takes no responsibility for the letter’s content, assessment or recommendations. This was done to assess specific examples that may occur. For further clarity producers should pursue their own legal recommendation.

Investigating retained ownership

A shortage of feed and a dry start to the grazing season may make it worthwhile for some cow calf producers to investigate retained ownership or other off-farm feeding opportunities. Bruce Viney, Risk Management Specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, has described some scenarios about dealing with possible feed shortages in areas of the province. Some pressure on the feeding sector moving into the summer and fall could cause other dynamics in the industry where a discussion with a market analyst may pay off. His article can be found in Alberta Farmer Express at
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