Veal farmers join national check-off agency

Fees were already being collected, but now Ontario farmers have more say in spending

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Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) is now part of the Canadian Beef Check-Off Agency (CBCA), following an agreement that included a voting role on a subcommittee charged with promotion.

The western Canada-based chair and general manager of the agency were on hand at VFO’s recent annual general meeting to usher in the arrangement.

A federally regulated checkoff has been collected on cross-boundary beef and veal for about 20 years.

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Why it matters: The new agreement means that veal farmers will have more influence on how their check-off dollars are spent.

“For you, as a veal producer, this won’t change a thing about what you do,” VFO executive director Jennifer Haley told attendees. “Your licence fees still stay at $5.50 per head.”

The federal checkoff is $1 per head on live animals, or a per-weight equivalent for beef and veal products.

CBCA general manager Melinda German said discussions at the CBCA’s predecessor organization, the Beef Information Centre, tended to be dominated by “beef, beef, beef.”

Four years, ago, however, in an effort to make the process more transparent and more open, the position eventually taken by German was created.

In recent years, there has been a gradual broadening of the message, said Haley.

“This agreement is proof,” she said, “that the conversation has changed dramatically.”

For their part, German and CBCA chair Chad Ross, whose family operates a ranch in Saskatchewan, credited Haley for her “impassioned” representation of the interest of Ontario’s veal farmers as the negotiations unfolded. Ross added that the welcoming of VFO into the agency “will offer a well-rounded outlook” at the board table.

There’s a 16-member board of directors for the national organization, with representation from producers and processors. CBCA fees are spent in three ways: marketing, research and stakeholder engagement.

For research, the agency partners with the Beef Cattle Research Council to allocate funds. And for stakeholder engagement, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association is a partner.

For the promotion dollars, meanwhile, there’s an internal subcommittee charged with administering the “Canada Beef” marketing initiative. This was a 12-member subcommittee, but voting membership has been increased to 13 to allow for a seat for VFO.

German described this newly created seat as “a voice to help develop and deliver marketing dollars… and to help decide where to allocate those dollars.”

In the lead-up to the announcement of the new agreement, Veal Farmers of Ontario was given input into recent point-of-sale literature updates.

In addition, Canadian beef and veal was the theme of a high-profile booth at the recent Restaurants Canada trade show in Toronto.

About the author

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Stew Slater

Stew Slater operates a small dairy farm on 150 acres near St. Marys, Ont., and has been writing about rural and agricultural issues since 1999.

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