The aim of developing the strategy, and the outcome of that development, was to get the whole industry committed to improve the industry across the country: better connections with consumers and among producers, increased competitiveness relative to our competitors, improved productivity and increased beef demand are ways to improve the resilience and profitability of beef cattle producers of all kinds across Canada.
The pillars and goals of the National Beef Strategy by 2020 are:
- Beef Demand – Increase carcass cutout value by 15%
- Competitiveness – Reduce cost disadvantages compared to main competitors by 7%
- Productivity – Increase production efficiency by 15%
- Connectivity – Enhance synergies within industry and connect positively with consumers, the public, government and partner industries
The Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off funds the goals and outcomes of the National Beef Strategy. Each provincial cattle organization allocates the Canadian Beef Check-Off dollars that they collect towards market development and promotion, and research, based on the priorities of the province.
The Beef Cattle Research Council is the national organization that manages the national beef research program. The Council accesses funds from the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off, as well as industry and government funding for this program. Canada Beef is the market development and promotion arm of the industry, and they also use the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off funds, along with industry and government dollars, to promote Canadian beef in Canada and abroad. A new area of promotion is also being added, to coordinate communications with the public in a public affairs or issues management scope.
When the budgets were developed to achieve the goals of the National Beef Strategy the estimated need was for an increase in the levy to $2.50 per head. Once that amount was decided in 2015, it was up to provinces to take the idea to their producers for consideration.
The Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association (SCA) rolled out this proposal in fall district meetings across the province in late October and early November of 2015, and several districts passed motions supporting increasing the national levy amount to $2.50.
The increase would bring the total levy on Saskatchewan-sold cattle to $4.50, consisting of the $2 provincial levy and the $2.50 national levy. As per the regulations governing the SCA, the $2 levy remains refundable. The Federal Levies order governs the national levy which is non-refundable.
Following the district meetings, the issue was brought to the floor at the SCA Annual General Meeting in January 2016 in Saskatoon. There, the proposal to increase the national levy from $1 to $2.50 was supported. The next step following that was to consider the timing of the increase.
Since January of 2016, there have been many meetings of provincial associations looking to make sure the increase transition happens together. There is currently support for the increase by all provincial levy collection groups aside from The Beef Farmers of Ontario. If all provinces move ahead without Ontario, it will still go a large part of the way to meeting the proposed budgets of the recipients of the national levy.
Saskatchewan and Alberta have the largest herds and have been allocating all their funds to the national bodies. Nova Scotia is already starting to collect the new amount, and Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick will follow shortly in 2017 with a consistent levy amount, making all maritime provinces equal. Their provincial levies combined with the $2.50 national levy mean cattle sold in their provinces are subject to a $6 per head levy.
By the January 2017 SCA Annual General Meeting, momentum was such that it was worth discussing timing again. The SCA board had passed a resolution to increase the levy in Saskatchewan to coincide with when Alberta made the increase which was expected by April 1, 2017. A fall meeting resolution to increase April 1 regardless of Alberta’s timing was debated at the AGM. It was defeated, as was an amendment to wait until April 1, 2018. Since then it is clear that Alberta will not be ready to increase by April 1, 2017. As such, the plan is for SCA to make the increase on August 1, 2017 to coincide with the beginning of SCA’s fiscal year.
An unfortunate effect of any province not moving ahead on increasing the levy, is that beef imported into Canada will only be subject to the current $1 national levy. Under international trade rules, imports must be treated the same way you treat domestic products when it comes to levies such as this. This is called national treatment.
When all cattle in Canada are subject to a $2.50 per head national levy, the same equivalency can then be applied to imports. The funds collected from imports are used for to generic promotion of beef. Canada Beef currently uses these funds to talk about the nutritional benefits of beef, culinary skills, recipe development and other non-Canadian beef branded efforts.
As the date for the increase gets closer, SCA will be communicating the increase with producers whose funds are collected, and with dealers and auction marts who do most of the collecting and remitting of those funds.
The time that has elapsed since the development of the strategy is a result of the complexity of the Canadian beef cattle business. The question of which funds are collected, how they are used and what constraints are on those funds, is an ongoing discussion. Concerns in one province about growing exports do not align with those in another province concerned with imports on store shelves. As with many things in Canada, getting all the provinces together is not a timely process.
It is important to understand that the goals of the National Beef Strategy cannot be met with the same funding levels of years past, and we must come together across the country to commit to the investment in our own industry.
SCA encourages producers and other industry stakeholders to review the many documents and videos outlining the goals and driving factors behind the National Beef Strategy at www.beefstrategy.com.
Anyone looking to discuss any aspect is welcome to reach out to the partners on that webpage or especially to SCA at our office at 306-585-2333.