Response to 17-14 - BFO Contingency Fund
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) distributes legal assessment invoices periodically to the provincial cattle associations to cover legal expenses incurred in trade disputes of interest to the Canadian beef industry (e.g. Country of Origin Labelling dispute). BFO budgets for this expense annually and discloses that estimate in the draft budget included in the BFO Annual Report. In addition, the actual legal assessments paid by BFO to CCA are included in the annual audited statements. CCA policy ensures that the legal contingency fund maintain a balance of at least $500,000. Assessments provided to the provinces ensure this cap is not exceeded. To date, BFO has covered all CCA legal assessment expenses using existing check-off revenue.
CCA will be working closely with their counterparts in the United States to ensure that any change in trade policy under NAFTA or any other trade agreement does not negatively impact beef or cattle trade with the United States. However, we cannot predict how the new “America First” policy may impact the beef industry’s relationship with our largest trading partner.
For information purposes, both BFO and CCA recommended that Country of Origin Labeling, and similar non-tariff barriers to trade, not be accepted as part of any NAFTA renegotiation in our submissions on the NAFTA renegotiation consultation that occurred this past July. Both BFO and CCA will continue to carry that message in all discussions regarding NAFTA.
Notwithstanding the contingency fund needed to defend Canada’s trade interests with respect to the beef industry, there is still a need to pursue additional check-off funding to assist in the implementation of both the National Beef Strategy, funded through national check-off funds, and the Beef Farmers of Ontario Strategic Plan, funded through provincial check-off. To ensure industry has the resources needed to implement components of both national and provincial initiatives, the BFO Board of Directors will be asking for your support for a proposal to increase the provincial check-off.
Pursuing a provincial check-off increase in lieu of an increase to national check-off provides several important benefits for Ontario. Firstly, it will provide the level of funding required to implement the components of the BFO strategic plan. In the absence of a signed agreement for national check-off, an increase to the provincial levy will also allow the BFO Board of Directors to provide increased funding for some of the national priority initiatives outlined in the National Beef Strategy, which calls for increased investment in national research, marketing and issues management. Moreover, allowing the Ontario industry to control the level and direction of funds sent nationally will help ensure that the investments made by Ontario beef producers are directed to initiatives and organizations that align with the needs and interests of the Ontario industry.
In order to recommend to the Ontario government that the provincial levy be increased, two-thirds of BFO delegates at the AGM must vote in favour of the proposal, as per the terms of our constitution. Additionally, notice of the vote must be published at least 14 days prior to the AGM, along with the notice of the meeting.
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