Wednesday, 16 January 2013 10:31

Alberta Beef Producers executive looking forward to 2013

Written by  Stephanie Labbe
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The Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) elected its new board of directors and executives in December.
On Dec. 3-5, the ABP held its annual general meeting where successes, issues and resolutions were discussed along with elections.

In a recent press release, it was stated the delegates were attentive and had a lot to say in discussions about how to improve the industry. There was an evening banquet to follow where 17 Alberta-based recipients were honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals.
A presentation of the ABP 2013 Environmental Stewardship Award to Gerry and Grant Taillieu of Tomahawk Cattle Ranch concluded the evening.
The 2013 executive was selected.
Doug Sawyer from Pine Lake re-elected as chair, Greg Bowie from Ponoka moved to vice-chair and John Buckley from Cochrane joined the executive team as the finance chair.
As well, the banquet welcomed the 2013 Board of Directors: Roland Cailliau from Valleyview; Mark Francis from Taber; Larry Delver from Calgary; John Bland from Strathmore; Chris Simpson from Bentley; Rob Somerville from Endiang; Judy Fenton from Irma; Brian Edge from Cochrane; Bob Lowe from Nanton; Howard Bekkering from Vauxhall; Rick McKnight from Jarvie; Brian Chomlak from Beauvallon and Cecilie Fleming from Granum.
Francis, a local Taber resident, is looking forward to what’s to come in 2013 and is excited for the future of the cattle industry.
“I feel very positive for the cattle industry for 2013. We are heading into a year with one of the smallest cattle herds in North America in decades, so hopefully prices should remain strong — as long as the U.S. and Canadian economies don’t stall out,” says Francis.
Francis hopes the U.S. doesn’t fall back into its 2012 conditions with drought.
This year marks Francis’ third year as a director on the ABP board. He enjoys being on the board, because he likes being part of the solutions for industry problems. He believes it’s important to be involved and help give back to the cattle industry he loves.
“My family has always been politically active and active in industry and community organizations, so I guess I was brought up to be involved,” says Francis.
In being a director, he hopes to bring his love for the industry and energy to the table.
“It was a pretty big learning curve when I became a delegate six years ago, but having great mentors like Chuck McLean and many others, helped very much,” says Francis.
He is aware of the challenges for the cattle industry this year and is hoping to be part of fixing some of the important issues. 
“One of the big issues this year is to get the memorandum of agreement with Alberta cattle feeders extended another three to five years on the dollar non-refundable national levy, which supports Canada beef, our national marketing arm and BCRC, our national research arm,” explains Francis.
“These organizations are so important to the industry and they benefit the entire industry. There are many, many issues that we are dealing with and there is always a new fire to put out, so there is never ... too much time to relax.”
Being involved with the cattle industry his entire life, Francis knows a lot about the industry and will put his knowledge towards his efforts on the board.
Currently, Francis works in a cow-calf operation with his brother in the Taber area.
The location in which he does his operation is where Francis' grandfather homesteaded in 1903 and his family has been farming and or ranching ever since.
“I enjoy being on ABP very much. It is a chance to meet other producers and learn from them. It is a chance to help guide the direction of the beef industry. It is a chance to help educate the public, the consumer and the youth of this province and serving at ABP is a great chance to give back to this great industry.”
For board member Cecilie Fleming, from Granum, a big responsibility is keeping producers well-represented and “keeping on top of erroneous unfounded press that is harmful to our industry.”
“It is our responsibility as an industry to ensure we have creditable data to refute any negative press and ensure media, politicians and decision makers have the correct information,” she adds.
Fleming is also looking forward to another successful year for cattle producers.
“I am optimistic. If we can keep input costs under control and prices of cattle stay buoyant, we can see some growth. We need to see annual profits in order to keep producers interested in the industry,” she adds.
Fleming says being a producer herself, she feels it’s important for her to be involved. She’s hoping to balance discussions by being proactive and not reactive.
“I am not afraid to ask the hard questions. I respect all sectors of cattle production.”
The ultimate goal, Fleming says, is to be profitable while being good to the land, water, air and livestock and producing safe, healthy food. Also, cattle play an important role in the provincial and national economy.
Living west of Granum with the Porcupine Hills as a backdrop, Fleming is surrounded by agriculture and says she absolutely loves it.
Growing up east of Taber with her family in the livestock industry played a large role in her passion for the industry. Fleming says her father brought her up in the cattle business.
“Livestock production is like another passion, either you love it or it is not what interests you. Cows, livestock production, the livestock business and the people who are in it is what makes me tick,” adds Fleming.

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