When you vote in the Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) Plebiscite between Oct. 19 and Nov. 13, there’s one principle of accountability we want you to keep in mind: Whoever pays the piper calls the tune.
There are a lot of aspects to the referendum and we will talk about them in subsequent letters.
For now, we just want to make one really important point clear.
The plebiscite isn’t a vote on how good a job the ABP is doing, on what it should be doing or whether it’s run by good people.
It is a debate about the right way to fund an organization so it works for and is accountable to the beef producers.
The answer to that question is simple, whoever signs their paycheques is the one they will be accountable to.
It should be you, not the government. Some might say refundable checkoff or not, the money still comes from us.
True, but without the refundable part it doesn’t come thanks to us. That matters.
If you can’t take your money back, it’s not you making ABP paydays possible.
It’s the state. It’s MLAs, cabinet members, the premier and bureaucrats.
In that case, ABP will not be representing you to the government. They will be representing the government to you.
Great organizations and businesses are such because they have great service and products that create loyal supporters and customers not because they have a monopoly, forced associations or mandatory check off.
There’s no reason to think they would do better things if your funding was mandatory and they did not have to satisfy you and one important reason to think otherwise is that “incentives matter”.
To us “The boss signs the cheques”. Advocates of a “Yes” vote are making a big deal about the $1.4 million per year Alberta Beef Industry Development Fund (ABIDF) they could create if you had to pay for it whether you wanted to or not.
But that fund is a red heifer. There is nothing to stop the ABP from creating the ABIDF now if the fund is as splendid as they say.
Creating it would convince people to leave their money with ABP. Every argument, that our services are so great you should not have any choice about buying them, destroys itself.
The Alberta Cattle Feeders Association (ACFA) has been granted privilege in this program for their endorsement.
They receive a fixed amount of the check off plus an extra say on industry issues including the new development fund.
This is undemocratic. ABP producers do not have a vote in ACFA. Choice and competition is what will bring out the best from the ABP.
They must compete for your funding support. At the end of the day, why don’t they want to answer to you?
They believe they know how to spend your money better than you do. It doesn’t matter what day you vote, or whether you vote in person or by mail. But it matters that you vote.
It matters that you vote to keep the ABP “working for you”.
Please vote no. You are the boss and you want a great ABP.
Danny Hozack, Past Chairman of the Alberta Beef Producers