New tools help beef producers profit from pasture to plate

Alberta’s producers will soon have more access to secure long-term loans needed to help finance their livestock operations from pasture to plate. A provincial regulation amendment will encourage innovative project development and will enable feeder associations to use creative options to make Alberta more competitive.

A special amendment will change the provincially-operated Feeder Associations Loan Guarantee Program to allow a pilot project for the Feeder Association to obtain a loan guarantee to extend funding through the supply chain. The amendment will alter the existing Feeder Associations Guarantee Regulation by emphasizing the need for innovative research and development projects as a way to explore different methods of growing, finishing and marketing cattle. It will also allow any feeder association to adopt this program.

With this amendment, two new research projects will be initiated – the Supply Chain Financing Pilot Project, and the Equity Loan Pilot Project. Feeder associations will also have the ability to propose other projects in the future, which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

The Equity Loan Pilot Project will allow members to access their increased equity on a monthly basis. Currently, feeder members receive their increased equity only when the livestock is sold, and the entire loan is paid off; including interest and other costs.

The Supply Chain Financing Pilot Project will develop and test protocols for a program to extend financing under the loan guarantee all the way through the supply chain until the product reaches retail. Under the current structure of the program, capital is provided only up until the sale of the animal, and it is not offered for the processing and marketing of the meat.

The new Feeder Associations Guarantee Act was given Royal Assent in April, 2009, and is expected to receive proclamation in the fall of 2010.

Grant applications for the On-Farm Food Safety program now being accepted

Alberta producers are invited to apply for a grant to help them further enhance food safety practices in their operations.

The Growing Forward On-Farm Food Safety grant covers 70 per cent of eligible expenses for approved activities up to a maximum of $5,000 per applicant. In order to participate, applicants must submit a work plan that outlines how they intend to implement or improve an on-farm food safety program in their operation.

The federal-provincial Growing Forward On-Farm Food Safety grant is available to help producers implement industry-developed and commodity-specific national on-farm food safety programs. Some of the activities eligible for financial support include:

• food safety training;

• equipment upgrades and purchases;

• developing record keeping systems;

• minor building modifications;

• laboratory testing; and

• on-farm certification audits.

The On-Farm Food Safety program was developed in consultation with producers to ensure it was effective, flexible and met producers’ needs. Growing Forward is a federal-provincial-territorial initiative that better positions the agriculture industry for success, and the On-Farm Food Safety program is an investment in that long-term goal.

For more information on Growing Forward and the On-Farm Food Safety program, including Growing Forward registrations, program terms, conditions, and application forms, visit www.growingforward.alberta.ca or call the Ag-Info Centre at 310-FARM (3276).

Amendments clarify coalbed methane ownership

Providing clarity on who owns the rights to produce coalbed methane in split title situations is the focus of new legislation introduced in the Alberta Legislature.

Bill 26, the Mines and Minerals (Coalbed Methane) Amendment Act, 2010, proposes that coalbed methane is, and always has been, natural gas for both Crown and freehold minerals. Under the proposed amendment coalbed methane would be owned by the holder of the natural gas rights.

An important provision being proposed in the Bill is that existing agreements entered into by the natural gas owner or their lessee, that specifically provided coalbed methane rights to the coal owner or the coal owner’s lessee, will not be affected by the amendment. The Bill also states that natural gas owners and their lessees cannot sue coal owners or lessees for compensation for coalbed methane that was extracted before the legislation was enacted.

A copy of Bill 26, the Mines and Minerals (Coalbed Methane) Amendment Act, 2010 as well additional information can be found at: http://www.energy.alberta.ca/NaturalGas/561.asp

Coalbed methane is natural gas found in coal seams. According to a study by the Alberta Geological Survey, Alberta’s coalbed resource could contain approximately 500 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of CBM. This compares to Alberta’s remaining conventional natural gas reserves of 36 Tcf. CBM is produced primarily in the Calgary-Edmonton corridor.

As the MLA for Drumheller-Stettler, I am always available to assist constituents. If you have any questions or concerns please call one of my constituency offices at Stettler 403.742.4284; Hanna 403-854-4333; Drumheller 403-823.8181, or my Legislature office at 780.427.2137. Also, please subscribe to my e newsletter at http://hayden.mypcmla.ca/.

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