Welcome to the Ontario
Cattlemenís Association 2008
Annual General Meeting.
I will open by saying that all of our
meals this year proudly feature
Ontario Corn Fed-Beef (OCFB).
This is because in 2007, your
Board approved a request from the
Ontario Cattle Feederís Association
(OCFA) to provide $400,000 a
year, for three years, in support of
OCFB. In this agreement, it has
been accepted that: there will be
increased communication between OCFA and OCA; that
we will work towards exchange of information between
sectors; that there will be use of Canadian Cattle
Identification Agency (CCIA) numbers to enhance producer
feedback; and that we will establish a protocol for
Ontario calves to fit into the OCFB program.
As you all know, this has not been a good year for our
industry, which is why we chose the theme Meeting Our
Challenges. There is simply no way to sugar-coat it.
What we need to do is understand why things happened
the way that they did. Then, we should commit to either
changing what we do, or must meekly accept whatever
crumbs the commodity markets throw our way.
Many of you heard Charlie Gracey deliver the consultantís
report on OCAís 10-Year Vision, last October. During the
sessions I was at, Charlie always said that ďa workable definition
of madness was doing things the way you always
have, and expecting a different outcomeĒ. The 10-Year
vision may not be radical enough for all of you, but it does
focus on things we can actually do fairly quickly to give us
an increased expectation of better financial results. I see
the way OCA has taken on the role of major funding partner
for OCFB this year as a commitment to provide you
with options that could make your business better. Last
year, OCFB jumped into the spotlight by gaining entry to
the Loblaws chain. This was achieved against great odds,
and was due to incredible perseverance by Jim Clark. It is
now up to all of the producers of this province to get on
board with change.
How many of you remember Red Greenís Manís Prayer?:
ďIím a man...but I can change...if I have to...I guess.Ē
Well, I know change is hard. Iíve had to change a few
things in my life, as many of us do. Itís always difficult
at the time, however, it can work out better than ever
expected, in the end. There are elements of OCAís 10-Year
Vision that will require you to change what you are
doing. Others have blazed the trail for you, to make
your journey easier. Dr. Peter Kotzeff deserves a lot of
praise for the pioneering work heís done with protocols
for the Bluewater Black and Bruce Peninsula Calf Clubs.
Peter has completed the hard work associated with
being the first to attempt something. Cow/calf producers
who arenít involved in a group like this, need to be, to
maximize their returns.
Building horizontal alliances among cow/calf producers
is just one part of the 10-Year Vision, however. Is it up
to OCA to do this? No. Producers have to do the work,
but OCA will assume a facilitator role in the process.
One of the comments often made by cow/calf producers
is that feedlot operators wonít buy Ontario calves.
However, part of the agreement with OCFB commits to
working together to develop a protocol for Ontario
calves to make them fit into the OCFB program. This is
just one example of how we are working to bring the
industry together. OCFB has the potential to be the
largest vertical value chain in the province. It could
change your fate as beef producers. We all have a
responsibility to support it fully. Please think about that.
At this point, Iíd like to quickly re-cap some of our other
major activities this year.
As well as the fine work which is being done by OCAís
Communications Department, including a dramatically
improved Web site, five editions of Ontario Beef magazine,
three issues of the Ontario Steakholder, and 50 OCA
Weekly Updates, I would like to highlight a few of the other
activities that your Board and staff undertook to attempt to
ensure communications channels are open.
In the Spring of 2007, we once again traveled the province
to hold Regional Meetings. Invited to these are the
President and Advisory Councillor for every county. On
July 12-13th, we held our Summer Advisory Council
meeting in Gore Bay. The OCA Board also approved theaforementioned
series of fall dinner meetings to roll out
OCA's 10-Year Vision. A total of thirteen were held
throughout the province, with representation from staff and
Board at each meeting. This was during the depths of
our fall pricing lows, and provided a good chance for
producers to come out and express their opinions.
Finally, the Advisory Council held their Fall meeting in
Cobourg at the end of November. You, as members,
are free to push your issues up to the Board at any
time of the year, via your Advisory Councillor. The
above-mentioned meetings give your Councillor a
forum to express your views.
COUNTY GRANTS AND SHARECOST
County grants were increased to $1,000 this year (based
on submitting minutes of the County annual meeting), and
the Sharecost Program was increased to reimburse counties
for 80% of their out-of-pocket expenses up to $5,000
($2,500 each for producer and consumer initiatives).
These increases made funds available to counties who
wanted to increase their promotion and outreach. Payouts
this year, through Sharecost, increased from $36,000 in
2006, to almost $88,000.
INITIATIVES FOR YOUTH
The 4-H Queen's Guineas Steer Show lost its major
sponsors in 2007, and needed support to continue. This
event, held at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in
Toronto, is the largest junior steer show in Canada.
Your Board took the position that OCA would be a
sponsor for this event in 2007, and we provided $100
to each participant.
We were delighted when The Honourable Gerry Ritz,
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and The Honourable
Leona Dombrowsky, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food
and Rural Affairs, signed the final documents to implement
the long-awaited changes to the Beef Cattle Marketing Act. Getting
these amendments through, which include the
increase in check-off and a 7-day exemption for dealers,
were a major task for staff. It is good to see the conclusion.
Finally, I would like to welcome two new members of the
OCA staff. Lisa Turney has joined OCA as a part-time
Administrative Assistant, providing support to the VBP-QSH
program. As well, LeaAnne Hodgins has stepped into the
role of Trade Show and Promotions Coordinator and will be
providing communications support. If you have been at any
of the events this fall, Iím sure you will have already met her.
GOVERNMENT RELATIONS AND LOBBYING
OCA was active on an number of fronts in the area of government
relations. For more details, see page 13.
Other items which OCA worked on throughout the year
included: implementation of the advanced payment program
for cattle; the Market Development Partnership Program; the
Industry Development Fund; the Source Water Protection
Act; and the age verification project, to name a few. This
year also saw us ďgo liveĒ with our membership database
and complete our Situation Response Communications Plan.
Over the next few pages of this report, you will be able to
read more about some of these items and also some areas I
have not covered here.
In closing, I would like to reiterate that I know 2007 has been
a challenging year for producers in this province, but your staff
at OCA does understand this. We will continue to work hard
for you in the upcoming year to help Meet Our Challenges.
Ontario Cattlemenís Association