By Rob Vogt
The vision of Alberta Beef Producers is that it is a strong, clear and representative voice, speaking and working on behalf of cattle and beef producers in Alberta, contributing to a vigorous and profitable beef industry.
Its mission is to strengthen the sustainability and competitiveness of the beef industry for the benefit of beef producers in Alberta.
Claresholm is well-represented in this effort by Fred Lozeman, a producer west of town.
Back in 2016, this region was represented by Cecilie Fleming of the Granum area. Lozeman talked to her and discovered she was retiring.
He had thought about the organization for awhile.
Lozeman also looked at the check-off, made up of a $2 service charge and a $2.50 levy her head of cattle, paid by producers at the point of sale, which funds Alberta Beef Producers.
“It peaked my interest,” he said. “How’s that spent?”
Then he had another thought.
“Maybe I should get involved,” he said.
The process to get involved is to apply to be a delegate in your area.
Claresholm is part of the southwest zone, spanning from Lethbridge west and Sundre south to the U.S. border.
If there are more candidates than positions, an election is held.
Lozeman was successful at becoming a delegate and was then elected to the board.
The board is tasked with directing the organization for the benefit of fellow producers. That includes overseeing, strategizing, and protecting the organization.
However, it is up to the staff of Alberta Beef Producers to operationalize the direction the board sets.
Alberta Beef Producers protects the Alberta beef brand, and promotes that brand on behalf of producers. Alberta beef has a certain prestige and quality that people associate with it.
Alberta Beef Producers also funds some research and does marketing and promotion.
“Advocacy is a big part of Alberta Beef Producers (too),” Lozeman said.
He said the provincial government does recognize agriculture is an important part of Alberta’s economy and society.
He added they were blessed to have had Nate Horner as agricultural minister, who is a beef producer, and deputy minister Jason Hale.
The new minister is RJ Sigurdson who has indicated the same level of support.
Federally, a lot is funnelled through the Canadian Cattle Association, and Lozeman said that seems to work fairly well.
“We’ve (also) got a good MP in this riding,” he said. “A real champion for agriculture.
“John Barlow is very approachable.”
There are a lot of national issues too.
Right now, one is the United Kingdom seeking to gain entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would not be good for the public or beef producers.
The United Kingdom has demonstrated a history of erecting barriers to the entry of Canadian beef to its market.
A big issue is the continued impact of drought on the beef industry.
Cattle numbers have been dropping for years, and there is a massive effect on profitability.
“It’s been successive, tough years,” Lozeman said.
He added producers have not been able to make much over successive years, and need a few good years in a row.
Producers are also looking for a program like crop insurance. Currently, those in the beef industry are stuck with limited risk management ability.
The carbon tax also adds cost to everything.
Lozeman said the federal government has to recognize beef producers are part of the solution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
They are the stewards of grass land, which stores carbon, and the biodiversity habitat that goes with that.
Lozeman is currently on the executive and is the finance chair for Alberta Beef Producers, a position he has had since March of this year.
Their goal is to represent the producers, by trying to maintain good communication channels with the agriculture minister and staff. They also try to go in with a united voice for the industry, working with others such as feeding and grazing associations, auction market, veterinarians, brand inspectors, cattle identification organizations and more.
“You better go in with a united voice,” he said.
His number one commitment though is to the producers, noting it is a challenge to stay connected to the members of Alberta Beef Producers.
A blended approach is used on how to communicate how that $2 service charge is used.
That is important, because producers can ask to have their check-off refunded, and some do.
Overall, the underlying reason Fred Lozeman is involved in Alberta Producers is simple.
“It’s my turn,” he said. “People did it before me.”
Moreover, Alberta Beef Producers plays an important role.
“Our policy makers depend on it,” he said.
By Rob Vogt