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Oct 18, 2004 | 07:40 1 Finally got the ABP annual report and the itinerary of Zone Meetings. Reply With Quote
Oct 18, 2004 | 08:59 2 I hear that the GM resigned. So their probably looking for another yes man. Reply With Quote
Oct 18, 2004 | 12:07 3 Producers have the opportunity to vote for the delegates of their choice at the Zone meetings, so hopefully these meetings will be well attended. Reply With Quote
Oct 18, 2004 | 15:19 4 WD40 - Resigned is not exactly the word.
A better explaination was made by someone in the office;
"Kind of like letting a coach go after a loosing season."

Yes a new person will be hired in time. Reply With Quote
Oct 19, 2004 | 15:18 5 rp - kinda long season eh. good news non the less! Reply With Quote
Oct 20, 2004 | 04:39 6 Well obviously I don't know the reason Sargeant was let go but usually when things are screwed up someone has to go and often that is the employee...seldom the people who are elected!
The tide turns and all the politicians try to get in front of the parade sort of thing? Got to have an excuse for doing nothing the last year or so, right? So what are you going to do?...fire the guy who was following your directions...usually works fairly well!
I suspect Gary Sargeant is that fall guy? Reply With Quote
Oct 20, 2004 | 06:35 7 cowman, how many producers do you think actually research the candidates and find out what qualifications they have before voting ? I have attended many zone meetings and seem the same few faces of producers in attendance. I think that if there are compliants and concerns about ABP, the onus is on producers to get out and vote for candidates they feel can do a better job. Reply With Quote
Oct 20, 2004 | 07:48 8 I believe the reason there was a change of General Manager is because the ABP is a very different organization than it was even 5 years ago. The feedlot sector has basically taken over the ABP and Mr. Sargent did not have the support of the mega feedlots. A new GM will be hired who more closely listens to the wishes of the mega feedlots, to the detriment of the average cow calf producer.

Of even more concern at these fall meetings is a vote that will be put before those in attendance to allow the packers 2 seats on the board of directors under the guise of "Industry Council". Although the spin that will be put on the vote is to bring in the Auction Marts and order buyers, Industry Council is controlled directly and indirectly by the packers. If the push to have the packers sitting at the ABP board table is successful, the influence of the cow calf sector will be even further eroded. To the point where the cow calf guy is paying the checkoff but "Industry" is controlling the organization.

Whoever the new General Manager is, the board will make sure he/she is more supportive of the "Industry" than Gary Sargent was who did support the cow calf producer more than most know. Reply With Quote
Oct 20, 2004 | 10:21 9 Farmersson, Is it the case that these two packer reps will be elected in the fall meetings? I know when this was aired in the spring some of us were very unhappy at that prospect. I talked at length to my ABP rep about it but she informed me after the July(?) meeting in Edmonton that these people were no longer being elected to the ABP. Was I lied to or this still really a live issue? please let me know as we might be able to encourage a better turnout at meetings if we point out that Cargill and Tyson are going to be even more in control of our industry as well as our industry organisation if we stand back. Reply With Quote
Oct 20, 2004 | 17:28 10 No your ABP rep did not lie to you.

This is what is going to happen. At this falls meetings, the ABP will ask you to vote on allowing two "industry council" reps to sit on the ABP board of directors. Actually, the majority of delegates have already voted and approved this change (note however that not all delegates did, some still represent the cow calf producer and voted against it but they are now a minority). All the ABP needs is this vote to pass at one fall meeting anywhere in the province (even if it was voted down at 30 other meetings) and then it can be brought forward to the Annual General Meeting where it will be rubber stamped by the feedlot delegates and directors of the ABP who now form a majority within the ABP.

This proposed change came from the board of directors who are going to see it happen one way or another. The talk is Shirley McClellan wants to see it happen and I certainly believe Ralph wants to see the packers represented on the Alberta Beef Producers.

Now don't be fooled for a minute. The spin will be that these two "industry council" reps will be an auction market rep and an order buyer rep but there is no doubt that the real purpose of this change is to allow the packers onto the ABP board to complete the transition from a producer organization to an industry organization. The door will be wide open for the packers to tap the auction rep and order buyer on the shoulder and say move aside we are sitting here now.

When your ABP rep says these people are not going to elected to the ABP she is right. Once the change is in place producers will not vote for or have any input regarding "industry council" reps. "Industry council" which is the packers, auctions, order buyers will simple appoint 2 people to the ABP board. Once the packers are on the board of ABP they can move from there to the board of CCA which is where they really want to be. Then the packers will control or have influence on both the Canada Meat Council and the Canadian Cattlemans Association. No more worries about the federal government not siding with the packers positions from now on.

If you closely follow the CCA and their statements, you will have noticed the CCA never says anything bad about the packers knowing full well within the next few months two packer reps could be sitting on their board.

If you think this couldn't happen, you truly underestimate the producer apathy that is out there. The same old bunch will come to the meetings and stick their hands up for everything that is put before them. The rest of the producers will sit at home and watch the tube and then gripe about the ABP and why it doesnt represent their interests. And it is no longer enough for producers to just come to the fall meetings, they need to go the AGM to make sure their delegates dont say one thing at home and vote another way in Edmonton. Reply With Quote
Oct 20, 2004 | 19:42 11 If producers feel strongly about this issue why aren't they putting forward a resolution at each of the zone meetings? This is one way to get concerns to the floor of the ABP AGM, and may have a lot more influence than sitting and complaining about things after they happen. Reply With Quote
BFW
Oct 20, 2004 | 21:03 12 Could someone please explain to me how the "mega" feedlots with 3-4 seats on a board of directors of 19 or 20 have somehow taken control of the ABP? Clearly your statements Farmers Son have no basis in fact. If you think some things are now happening differently at he ABP board and delegate level it is because a broader industry perspective is now available to help aid in the decision making process and our industry will be much better served by this structure both now and in the future. I can't believe some of these comments, it's no wonder our organizations are less effective than we would like them to be! Reply With Quote
BFW
Oct 20, 2004 | 22:35 13 I know some of the folks who represent the Feeder side of the industry as delegates to ABP, and they are hard working fellows trying to make a living just like the rest of us. Reply With Quote
Oct 21, 2004 | 04:48 14 emerald: Well I don't attend or support the ABP, because simply I don't believe they should exist. I am forced into paying the checkoff to an organization that I believe works against my best interests. Did my best to get rid of them back when they had a vote on keeping the checkoff mandatory, but obviously that didn't work out and slightly more than 6% of producers decided to keep the checkoff...in other words about 12% of eligible producers botherd to vote!
What can you do? Nothing will change and the apathy will always be there. I guess a person just has to accept the fact you have aquired another permanent parasite in your life and learn to live with it? Reply With Quote
Oct 21, 2004 | 07:04 15 The ABP is not another parasite that we just learn to live with and ignore. The ABP represents us whether we like how they do it or not. As such the policies and directions of the ABP do impact each and every beef producer. The ABP depends upon producer apathy to allow them to pursue policies and directions that they know do not represent the views of producers. By not participating producers are allowing control of their industry to be taken over by others who do not have their interests first and foremost.

It would be naive to believe that a few cannot influence the many. In the last year the Alberta Cattle Feeders (which for all intents and purposes is the mega feedlots) have gained special status within the Alberta Beef Producers. As a special interest group they have guaranteed delegate positions within each zone and guaranteed seats on the board of directors. Working as a cohesive group within the larger group they are influential far beyond what their numbers might suggest.

It is the same with the packers on the Board of Directors. If you are arguing what difference would 2 packer representatives make on a board of 19 or 20, it actually can make a very real difference. Certainly the potential exists for the 2 packer reps to sit on the executive committee as chair and finance chairman and directly control the direction of the ABP. More likely they would exert their influence in other ways as they have a direct economic stranglehold on many of the individual directors.

Utlimately the checkoff is paid by the cow calf operator. The feedlots just deduct the checkoff from what they pay for weaned calves and when it comes to the packers we dont want to even think about what they are deducting from what they are paying. Producer apathy can be counted upon again this fall as producers sit at home and watch control of the ABP slip away from them as they pay higher and higher checkoffs with less and less control over how that money is directed.

BFW: the broader "industry" perspective you speak of is the feedlot and packers perspective. Just witness how much of the Government programs/handouts that were developed in conjunction with the ABP have gone to the feedlots and the packers and how little has gone to the cow calf operator and you will see what the "broader perspective" does. We are talking about Billions of dollars going to a handful of feedlots operators and packers. I have read these threads enough to know you represent the feedlots. Well I am a feedlot operator too but I am not a friend of the packers and the mega feedlots they are in bed with. They dont represent me. I choose to not be a member of the Alberta Cattle Feeders and there are lots of smaller feedlots who want no part of the politics of the mega feedlots.

To reiterate my point, the ABP is proposing a change at this falls meetings to allow "industry reps" 2 seats at the Board of the ABP. These two seats will go to the packers or be controlled by the packers indirectly. Once the change is approved producers will have no opportunity to influence who is sitting in these two chairs. I believe this is outrageous given the actions of the packers during the BSE crisis. It may offer a broader perspective but it wont be the producers perspective. Have we forgotten it is the producer who is paying the bills and is at the end of the rope when every one else passes their costs down the line? Reply With Quote
Oct 21, 2004 | 07:40 16 Thank you for your insight farmers-son, I will do my best to utilise it in motivating people to attend these meetings this fall. Reply With Quote
Oct 21, 2004 | 07:42 17 ... whether we like the ABP or not they are the voice to the government...the chain is definitively changing in the commodities we raise on the farm so if the farmers want to sit back and let a few dictate there will be less cowcalf operators in the future... only have to look at the hog industry ... Reply With Quote
BFW
Oct 21, 2004 | 14:15 18 Farmers Son, about four years ago several of the cattle industry groups joined together to form the Alberta Beef Industry Council. The groups involved realized that due to the significant changes that the beef industry in this country had undergone that we would be well served by examining how our representative organizations were structured in an effort to ensure that all elements of the production chain were represented at the table. This was done not to try and take away "control" from the cow calf producer but instead to develop a more effective industry body that would be able to meet the challenges and opportunities (little did we know) ahead in a manner that would benefit the industry as a whole. The ideas were generally well received, most notable exception being those high up in the ABP at the time. Anyway progress along the lines of what the Beef Council proposed has occurred 9though be it slow). The ABP formed the Feeder Council whose purpose is to advise the board on policy more specifically focusing on feedlot issues for example. The council elects 13 feeder members from the 9 zones across the province. Three of these feeder council members are now eligible to sit on the ABP board. The feeder council is certainly not a mechanism for the Alberta Cattlefeeders Association to gain special status within the ABP as you suggest Farmers Son. As for the Industry Council, its fate is yet to be determined. Again, better representation at the delegate and board level from a wider cross section of the industry can only be viewed as positive for ABP and the industry. I remain dismayed by the amount of paranoia displayed by so many in the industry and the thinking that if they can maintain control of the ABP they will then somehow be able to right all that is wrong. The reality is the ABP does not have (nor should it) that kind of power. It is not another level of government for industry to deal with. It should be an economic association of industry players working for the betterment of the beef industry in this province. Reply With Quote
Oct 21, 2004 | 18:17 19 Actually farmers son the ABP is a parasite as far as I am concerned! As long as these "lobbyists" extract a mandatory checkoff from me that is exactly what I will consider them!
I sure as hell never asked for them and I sure as hell don't want or need their help!
Why do they have a mandatory checkoff? Because their policies are totally for an "elite" group that has little to do with your average cattleman. I would suggest to you that the Western Stockgrowers represents the interests of the cow/calf sector better than the ABP? However the Western Stockgrowers is a VOLUNTARY organization not a bunch of weasels who got the government to force you to pay their way?
I liked the idea of the beef council...anything to get rid of the ABP! Reply With Quote
Oct 21, 2004 | 19:09 20 I am left wondering if we were an association of ship owners in the 1800s would our industry be better served if we invited a couple of the local privateers who were attacking and looting our ships to sit in and vote at our meetings. After all it would mean a wider cross section of the industry was involved and we would gain a broader industry perspective.

Of course we wouldnt but this is exactly what is being proposed by allowing the pirate packing plants to vote at our producer organization. I am not being old fashioned or set in my ways if I suggest the packers have no business in the ABP. The packers are simply out to loot our industry and **** our producers, they are not our friend or ally and we shouldn't be in bed with them.

If our producer organization sees an advantage in forming a relationship with a packing plant I suggest they had better own the packing plant and form a value chain with that plant not invite the 2 rogue pirate American plants to vote in their organization. My opinion.

But if producers dont attend the meetings and insist that their organization takes directions that actually are in their best interest dont be surprised to see a couple of pictures of Cargill and Lakeside representatives grinning broadly in next years issue of the ABP Annual Report. Your new directors of the ABP.

And cowman, please dont get so hung up on the checkoff that you forget it is still our producer organization no matter how it is funded. Our should I say it was our organization until such time as the packers get their hooks in it. I like the WSGA too but really the ABP does quite a bit more, marketing and so forth. There are WSGA people on ABP. Reply With Quote
Oct 21, 2004 | 19:10 21 What BFW and Cowman converge on is true. Reply With Quote
BFW
Oct 21, 2004 | 19:59 22 Farmers Son, I think that you could use a dose of the broader perspcetive that is being implemented in the ABP. Yor mentality is typical of that of which has held back the ABP for years. Try and look beyond the current situation. No one likes the power that the packing industry has over the production sector but it will not last forever. The role of the ABP that is representative of all facets of the industry will be to help to ensure that measures are put in place that do not allow this sort of situation to arise again. What do you see as the role of the ABP? Reply With Quote
BFW
Oct 22, 2004 | 08:01 23 BFW - If we are truely looking at the big picture and the structure of ABP, could I ask why that initial structure has been altered from Democratic to appointed. The first step to make a Feeder council is questionable, however the second step of alloting positions to the packers simply boggles my mind.

The structure was in place for special interest groups like this to become part of ABP through the democratic process in place. Want to be a delegate, then put your name up, in your zone, etc. etc.

You are certainly right about the whole industry working toward a common goal, however which group is it that is not. Is it the group of producers who do not like the changes - or is it the folks who are profitting off the backs of those producers.

Of course we need packers, but until they start acting like they are part of the big picture why would ABP simply give them a position on any board.

Working together means working together, does it not? Reply With Quote
Oct 22, 2004 | 08:34 24 That is a good question. The ABP or ACC was established with a mandatory checkoff controlled and directed by producer delegates whose sole role was to represent the interests of the producers, the people actually paying the checkoff, in their zone. Although the checkoff was non refundable and was essentially a tax, the people paying the checkoff, the producers, did control the direction those checkoff dollars were spent. One producer, one vote.

That was then. Today is different. Now it is one checkoff dollar, one vote as the feedlots argued they paid a lot of checkoff dollars got special representation. I would argue the feedlots did not pay any checkoff dollars instead deducted the checkoff from what they paid the cow calf man. I am a feedlot operator and I know I have a line on my budget for checkoff and I deduct it like any other cost. And I still vote, maybe not fair but that is how it is.

What is being proposed is a distortion of the term producer to include packers, auctions, order buyers in a new definition of producer so they can be invited onto the board and given a vote on how the producers checkoff dollars are spent. We are told this is to gain a broader perspective. The role of the ABP will have completely changed from serving the interests of producers to the interests of the industry. But the actual producers will still be the only ones paying the checkoff. Not only will producers continue to be price takers in the industry but now the industry will take their checkoff dollars and control their organization.

In hindsight the worst thing the ACC or ABP ever did was raise the checkoff. Almost overnight the ACC went from a $4 million budget to a $10 million budget and that kind of money attracted special interest groups who wanted to spend it. $10 million is a lot of money even to a packer. No doubt about it the packers want a say in how that money is spent and the direction of associated lobby and promotional efforts. The packers see the importance of the ABP, too bad the producers don't.

You suggest that inviting the packers to spend our checkoff dollars will somehow lessen the control the packers have over producers. Sorry, I dont see that, maybe it is because I dont have a broad perspective. I see that as long as we have nowhere else to sell our calves than to these packers they totally control us. If the ABP wants to be an industry organization the best way to do that is to assist producers to vertically integrate into the packer sector. Producers should own the packer sector not let the foreign owned packer sector come into your organization and control your destiny. Actually, I think that is the real broad perspective. I would like to buy those packer bastards out, frankly. Not invite them onto our board. The ABP should be working hard toward establishing producer packing plants and instead they inviting the American packers to vote on their board. Unbelievable.

Finally to directly answer your question, the role of any organization should be to represent the interests of those funding the organization. It should not be to represent the interests of those who dont contribute financially. Having the pirates vote on the ABP board and thinking somehow that is going to help producers is magical thinking. Reply With Quote
Oct 22, 2004 | 09:36 25 An interesting point that a learned friend of mine and I were discussing the other night concerns the ABP/Packers and advertising issue.
We as producers pay checkoff levy to ABP - part of which advertises Alberta beef at home and around the world. Kind of strange as we are selling a raw material to the packers who add value to it and make huge profits(currently)-why should the packers not be paying anything to advertise Alberta beef? This was raised before on agriville by rpkaiser I think - does the company that makes the steel for cars/trucks pay for all the advertising that Ford motor company does? - I think not.
The point my friend and I were discussing was that in ADDITION to this cosy deal he has a suspicion that Cargill and Tyson actually get part of their company branded beef products advertising costs paid directly out of ABP funds. This will be raised at Fall producer meetings - does anyone have more info on this? Reply With Quote
BFW
Oct 22, 2004 | 14:15 26 I see th problem with our industry (not just the ABP) of having no clearly defined picture of where we want the industry to be. This makes working together towards common goals very difficult. Farmers Son you say that the role of an organization is to serve the interests of those funding it. What are those interests? You will find that they very significantly from on end of the province to another. Many resolutions passed at the AGM's leave you puzzled as to their significance to the beef industry. I suggest that it is high time that we examine what the role of the ABP is going to be in the future and ensure that the monies that it collects yield a reasonable ROI to the shareholders.

RPKAISER, delegates to the feeder council are not appointed anymore as they were in the first year. THey go through the same process that any other person seeking a delegate position in the ABP would. The proposal for industry council as I understand it also involves elected positions. Reply With Quote
BFW
Oct 22, 2004 | 20:12 27 BFW When you say elected, do you mean elected along side the regular Candidates. This is not how I understand it. They may be elected, but elected by putting their names up for feeder council, not general election.
I would expect industry reps would be the same.

What I am suggesting is for these special interest groups to run along side the normal candidates, and then put any title they want on their position after that. Why special treatment. Why would we not have a purbred breeders council, or a Grassroots opposition council, etc. etc.

If ABP is to be spoken of as a democratic voice of the industry, why not keep it democratic.

One more point I would like to make. I am personaly a founding member of BIG C. We have been seen by a lot of ABP folks as a boil on the ass of their group. Why is it that the government in Ottawa has a opposition. Maybe they should just call them a boil on their ass, and negate everything they say.

Sorry about that one, I do not intend to say that everything ABP does is wrong. I do however beleive that everyone in this country has a right to opinion,and if ABP does not, then drop the democracy facade and make whatever rules suit the power of the day. Reply With Quote
BFW
Oct 22, 2004 | 22:38 28 Actually, I think that having a cow -calf council,as you are suggesting Rpkaiser, dedicated to issues directly affecting that segment of the industry would be a great idea! The goal would be to have an overarching board equitably representative of the entire industry acting on behalf of the industry. It is alright for producers (specifically cow-calf) to have a majority on this board but a strong, effective board of directors is well served by having a broader cross section of experience and opinion. Besides the democratic process will still favor the primary producer as he will hold the majority of the board seats. I do not want to belittle the democratic process but I sometimes think that when it comes to our industry associations we put to much emphasis on democracy and not enough on ensuring that we see positive returns on our investments in checkoff dollars. Reply With Quote
BFW
Oct 23, 2004 | 07:32 29 if all Agri-ville participants that are eligible to vote at the ABP Zone meetings will pick up two or three neighbours on their way to the meetings, all those additional votes will make a difference. Reply With Quote
Oct 23, 2004 | 08:47 30 Grassfarmer, you asked about advertising and promotion. Does it work? Yes. Does it benefit producers? No. Are there better places to spend that money? Certainly.

I have seen some really marvelous promotional efforts initiated by the ABP and BIC with our checkoff dollars. Unfortunately the benefits all accrue to the retailers and packers, not producers. There are many reasons for this but the best explanation I could offer is no matter how much we attempt to influence our domestic market there is an unlimited supply of offshore cattle that will quickly move in and fill any demand we are able to create. There are other reasons involving derived demand versus market demand, price elasticity at the farm gate, non functioning markets and limited competition amongst our supply chain partners, the packers and retailors. Bottom line, generic promotion of beef can never benefit the producers other than to offer them some false hope that they can somehow influence their fortunes through advertising.

But what if the money spent on promotion was instead directed towards producer owned packing plants? The proposed 2005/2006 ABP budget is $13,500,000 of which roughly $10,000,000 is for promotion of some kind or another. I think it is a fair comment to suggest those promotional dollars are mostly benefiting the packers and retailors much more than producers, if they benefit producers at all. But if that money was directed towards a producer packing plant there would direct and immediate benefits to the entire production sector. $10 million a year is a lot of money. We really can build and operate a producer owned packing plant with that kind of annual cash injection.

Would something like this ever happen? Not unless there was widespread and vocal support from producers themselves. I think the ABP is hoping producers are all worn out and dont have the energy to attend any more meetings and demand needed changes. We will see in the next few weeks. Reply With Quote