Beef industry ready to raise product and profile

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The Alberta beef industry is on solid ground and taking steps to increase quality and better promote its product.

“The outlook for beef and agriculture are pretty good,” says John MacArthur, Alberta Beef Producers, director for Zone 9, the Peace region.

“Cattlemen are receiving good to fair price for their product.”

It appears the future of the industry is bright.

“I’m optimistic about the cattle and beef industry,” says MacArthur, a farmer in the Fairview area.

“Beef is moving, people are eating our product and we’re exporting.”

He also wants to further increase the profile of beef and the industry.

“We’re trying to show we’re raising a healthy clean product,” he says.

“We have to take a more public stand when special-interest groups criticize our product and criticize what we’re doing.”

Farmers also want better regulations and fewer restrictions from provincial and federal governments to help them operate their farms.

“Don’t make life so difficult,” MacArthur says.

“All we’re trying to do is make our farms more productive.”

He is optimistic the agricultural industry will get better support from the new Alberta government under the United Conservative Party elected in April 2019.

“We hope with the new government, we might receive a better reception about our concerns and suggestions than we did with the former NDP government,” MacArthur says.

“A lot of beef producers supported the UCP in the election.”

He predicts that could help the industry gain support for agriculture.

But he doesn’t expect a lot more support with additional funding.

Expenses are a major obstacle for producers to sustain their operations.

“The biggest challenge is to get input costs down,” MacArthur says.

“Some producers are having to sell off their herd or downsize.”

The quality of hay is also not good for farmers, he notes.

Another big obstacle is hurting the industry.

“Risk management is a big challenge for farmers,” MacArthur says.

“Those risk-management programs need to be more responsive to producers’ needs.”

MacArthur says he is uncertain how the provincial budget on Oct. 24 and the federal election on Oct. 21 will affect the industry.

The Liberal Party and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were re-elected in a minority government.

However, the Conservative party captured all seats in Alberta except one in Edmonton retained by the NDP.

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