Bill 9: Marketing of Agricultural Products Amendment Act, 2017, will allow for industry organizations like ALP with refundable check-off to hold a producer plebiscite to potentially return check-off to being non-refundable. Prior to September 1, 2010, check-off was non-refundable for lamb producers. Bill 43, introduced in 2009, mandated that check-off be refundable.
Almost $100,000 of check-off has been refunded since 2010. An average of 1% of lamb producers request check-off refunds, resulting annually in 7-10% of check-off revenue for the organization. For a relatively small industry, refundable check-off leaves the organization unable to budget, plan for future projects, or financially support sheep research studies which are vital to the growth of the lamb industry. ALP is required to return check-off to producers who ask for it but are also required to offer services to these producers, creating an unfair situation for the entire industry and all producers.
Darlene Stein, Chair of ALP, states, “I am very pleased that Bill 9 was well received. It's always a good day when the power for change is placed back in the hands of the people, in this case the producers. Now it's up to producers to decide what they want for their industry.”
Lamb producer, Roger Albers, states “I was happy to see Bill 9 introduced to the legislature. As a feedlot owner managing 40,000 lambs and lambing 4000 ewes, I believe we all have a responsibility to support our industry if we want it to thrive. Paying check-off is our way of supporting our industry and those individuals on the board willing to advocate for us so we can focus on the day to day operations of our farms.”
In Alberta, a mandatory service charge (check-off) of $1.50 is paid by producers at the same time they buy Canadian Sheep Identification Program tags. A mandatory check-off of one cent per pound of wool marketed is also deducted. Lamb producers have consistently requested that ALP pursue non-refundable check-off at AGMs since 2010. ALP is thankful for this support and direction, and encourages producers to discuss the importance of this Bill with their MLAs.
For more information, read the Government of Alberta News Release: 'Legislation to re-empower agricultural commissions''