This year, our Annual General Meeting (AGM) theme
is Progress Starts with Partnership - which has great
significance for the cattle industry at this time. Not
only does it refer to the need for cooperation among
sectors, it also speaks to the importance of
collaborating with Ontario consumers to hear their needs
– and meet them.
As you will read in the Executive Director’s report,
the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association (OCA), and Ontario
Cattle Feeders’ Association (OCFA) met last year and
decided that OCFA would concentrate its efforts on the
marketing of Ontario Corn-Fed Beef. OCA, on the other hand
will be the one voice for beef farmers in Ontario with
respect to policy planning and government relations.
To make this work well for Ontario cattle feeders, it is
crucial that the OCA Feedlot Committee becomes more
active. This committee should be working on research and
policy issues relevant to the cattle feeding sector in
Ontario, and pushing these issues up to the OCA Board.
Our Board welcomes and supports members of the OCFA who
wish to run for positions on our Feedlot Committee, or
the Board itself.
Another initiative which I am proud of is the Ontario
Beef Value Chain Roundtable (OBVCR). I Co-Chair this
forum, which has been needed for a long time. It provides
all participants, from primary producer through retail
and food service, the chance to express their ideas and
issues with our industry. The only way we will fix this
industry is through dialogue and action.
I believe there is opportunity to grow this industry in
Ontario, but the challenge is to develop a value chain
strategy that identifies the priority issues that, when
addressed, will help make all sectors profitable and
sustainable. The OBVCR has hired consultants to develop
an action plan for our industry. This will be a much
different document than previous plans and will be a
concise list of actions to improve the industry with
specific direction on implementation of these actions.
I would like to talk briefly about marketing Ontario beef
in Ontario. Participation in the Ontario Corn-Fed Beef
program gives producers the chance to have some control
over their future in our beef business. I have been a
“corn-fed” producer since its inception and I am a strong
believer in the program. During my term as President, OCA
has supported other marketing initiatives as well. We
have supported individual producers and groups in regions
of Ontario through the Market Development Partnership
Program. We have also worked to support local abattoirs.
OCA, in partnership with OMAFRA has helped foster the
establishment of two abattoirs in the remote communities
of Rainy River and Manitoulin. These new abattoirs will give
farmers in these areas additional options for marketing
Last year, OCA signed a licence agreement with Foodland
Ontario so that beef raised in Ontario can participate in
this program, and benefit from government support in
terms of promotional dollars for local, Ontario food. I
am extremely hopeful that at our AGM you will hear more
details about plans to promote Ontario beef. I believe
passionately that our future security will come from
forging a strong partnership with the Ontario consumer,
our best customer.
In closing, this will be my last message as President of
the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association. During my tenure, I
have had the opportunity to meet many people on your
behalf, from Premiers and Ministers to other leaders in
our industry and Ontario consumers.
I became involved in our association because I felt there
were things that I could help change, to make our
industry better. It is now time to pass the torch, and I
am truly heartened to see so many potential leaders ready
to take up the challenge. I am glad that I became active
in my industry and fully encourage you to do likewise,
and reap the rewards of service.
Finally, I would like to thank the OCA Directors for
their efforts in 2009, and to recognize the hard work and
professionalism provided by OCA’s Executive Director,
Dave Stewart, and his skilled and dedicated staff. I
would also like to recognize the contribution made by
OCA’s 49 Advisory Councillors, whose ideas and
suggestions throughout the year provided useful input
into the Board’s decision-making process.
Thank you. It has been a pleasure serving as your
Gord Hardy President Ontario Cattlemen’s