We are very thankful for the kind words and support we’ve received via the following testimonials.
With only weeks away from the 18th Annual Beef Industry Convention Zoetis is proud to once again support beef producers of Ontario by sponsoring Cattleman’s College and this key meeting for our industry. We see this event as an excellent opportunity to support those who support us through the use of our products and services, and we always enjoy the interactions and comradery shared by those in attendance.
We were all fortunate enough to enjoy another strong year in the beef industry and should all be proud of being a part of this success. The hard work that got us here will need to continue, as the challenges faced by our industry stand to become more complex and appear on more fronts. International trade, consumer attitudes toward agriculture, and increasing concerns regarding food quality and safety all continue to evolve, and all will require vigilant attention in order to maintain the resources and liberties required to sustain our market and brands.
Innovation on our farms and communication of our efforts and ideas to the public will be essential to maintain the customer demand and trust that will allow our industry to continue to grow. All sectors of agriculture are being asked to evolve and ours is no different, so please use your time at this meeting to gather knowledge you’ll need to make these advancements – then make sure to communicate these improvements to your peers and your community. The more people we have talking about the many ways the beef industry supports the public, in many ways more than food, the more we stand to gain down the road. For the public to know their beef industry, we need to speak about ourselves just as much as those that like to speak on our behalf!
We are looking forward to another strong Cattleman’s College presentation and hope to see you there. Please join us as we enjoy some social time together, celebrate the previous year, and prepare for a challenging and rewarding 2016.
Enjoy the conference!
Garth Graham, DVM
Area Business Manager – Cattle, Equine, Genomics
Zoetis Canada Inc.
The Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) continues to be a strong partner of the Ontario Corn Fed Beef (OCFB) program. I commend the OCFA Board and staff for their continued efforts in creating and building a strong brand that has proudly grown to become the largest producer-owned beef program in Canada.
In 2017, BFO started down a path to increase engagement in regional marketing initiatives in support of our members. We have so much opportunity here in Ontario because we have the largest consumer market in the country. We know that demand is strong for the OCFB brand with significant opportunities for growth both domestically and internationally. Despite this, the beef industry in Ontario continues to face increasing pressures from diverse import competitors, while at the same time coping with significant cost of production and economy of scale disadvantages in the North American market. While our Regional Marketing Initiative was created to tackle these issues, our Board of Directors agreed this year, through our strategic planning process, that we need not just a comprehensive plan to address these challenges, but also a strategy to create long-term stability for our members, industry partners and processing plants.
The minus 20 basis we experienced last year over four months represented a loss to your fellow producers of more than $30 million. The industry in Ontario cannot survive at these prices, nor can it survive at the price which imported product can come into Ontario. The OCFB brand was started 17 years ago to give some control back to Ontario farmers. As you may know, The George Morris Centre, while studying the impact of OCFB on the Ontario market in 2014 demonstrated a $26/head gain for producers, and stated that “Successful brands make a difference in the market.”
Now, we need to continue this success, learn from it and expand it. We need to work together to grow our domestic market share and develop regional brands that Ontario consumers will value. If we offer value, Ontario consumers will support us in the same way as they continue to support OCFB. To bring better balance to this market, we need a majority of Ontario cattle moving through Ontario brands. The BFO Board has set a goal of having Ontario beef brands recognized as the brands of choice by Ontario consumers, retailers, and foodservice providers.
There are three key components to achieving this part of the strategy. Firstly, we need to continue to promote and grow the OCFB brand. Secondly, we need to develop and grow other brands that resonate with our consumers, and the final component is to respond to increased expectations from consumers and the general public who are looking for greater transparency in the story of how beef farmers care for their animals and the environment. Building this bond will be the key to our long-term success.
In addition to expanding our market share and creating more stability for Ontario’s beef farmers, we need to expand our cow herd to support our growth in the marketplace and then of course we need new entrants who are passionate and innovative and who are looking for a lifestyle with more freedom, independence, and sense of community. We must find a way to make it easier and less expensive to access farmland and establish an operation, and ensure young farmers have a pathway to make money at beef farming.
If you would like to hear more about our strategic plan, I encourage you to attend your local county/district annual general meeting. These meetings, held across Ontario this month, will offer you the opportunity to meet with fellow producers and to provide our organization with direction for the coming year. Your active participation would be valued and greatly appreciated.
On behalf of the BFO Board of Directors, I wish you a prosperous year ahead and we look forward to our continued partnership in 2018.