Beef Farmers of Ontario look to get check-off increase passed again

The initiative will help fund a joint committee on market growth with the Ontario Cattle Feeders’ Association

Beef farmers will again vote on whether or not to increase the amount they send to Beef Farmers of Ontario at the organization’s annual meeting in late February.

Beef Farmers of Ontario and the Ontario Cattle Feeders’ Association hope to work together to market Ontario-branded beef and engage consumers.

Why it matters: The beef sector hopes to improve profits through all stages of the farmer supply chain, from cow-calf to backgrounding to cattle feeders. Strong market initiatives could create more value throughout the chain and encourage more cow-calf operators in the province.

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The joint committee’s activities would be funded by a check-off that Beef Farmers of Ontario hopes will be approved at its annual meeting in late February.

“This will avoid duplication of costs, make better use of your check-off dollars, and ensure sharper focus and better results for Ontario’s beef farmers,” said Joe Hill, president of BFO, at the 2019 Beef Industry Convention.

The joint marketing approach is being led by Jim Clark, executive director of the Ontario Corn Fed Beef Program. It will consist of six members: three from Beef Farmers of Ontario, Rob Lipsett, Craig McLaughlin and Jason Reid, as well as three from the Ontario Cattle Feeders’ Association.

“The committee will provide overarching support and promotion for all Ontario beef brands in domestic and international markets by working with farmers and our partners in the processing, retail and foodservice sectors,” said Hill.

The marketing initiatives contained in the budget for the joint marketing committee are designed to move more Ontario beef into the marketplace and displace product coming in from other provinces and countries.

“If we support the existing brand and new brands and it’s sold under a brand name, it will bring a higher price,” said Hill.

The second part of the program is producer engagement.

“It’s about helping to get information out to our producers on ways to improve their operations,” Clark said.

The goal is to help get young producers involved and connect them with mentors. It should also encourage everybody to want to produce products that meet a specific brand.

The third part of the program aims to drive consumer awareness of Ontario beef and beef products through digital, social media and public relations. As well, studies will be conducted around consumer trends and purchasing behaviours.

Hill said he wants to strengthen the sector’s social media presence, especially around the social issues of food safety and environmental impacts.

“There is lots of information sponsored by people who are not impartial and we have to counteract that with what we see as being truth and ensure all information is out there and help (the consumers) make informative decisions,” he said.

To fund these changes, a $1.50 increase to the provincial check-off fee has been proposed. Of that increase, 25 cents will go toward the BFO producer and consumer engagement and the remaining $1.25 to the BFO and OCFA marketing committee.

The creation of the increased marketing check-off to fund what was called the Regional Marketing Initiative was first rejected at the 2018 Beef Farmers of Ontario Annual General Meeting.

The constitutional change required to fund the check-off needed 66 per cent support and received 61 per cent support.

Hill said that this year more questions have been answered and more information has been provided to the Ontario producers, especially as to where the money will go. The producers needed more time and more information and Hill hopes it will pass at this year’s Beef Farmers of Ontario Annual General Meeting.

The AGM is Feb. 20-21 in Toronto. All Ontario counties will be represented and they can decide whether they want to approve this check-off increase.

“I think it really starts to push us in a little different direction from what we’ve done in the past, we’re going to take the association down a little different path,” said Hill “I think it’s a good step for our industry and I hope the producers see that as well.”

About the author

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Jennifer lives on a farm in Cayuga, Ontario and has a lot of experience in the many aspects of agriculture.

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