Stock growers get down to business – Local – The Moose Jaw Times Herald

Labour shortages, plastic recycling and irradiated beef were among the topics of discussion at the Saskatchewan Stock Growers’ Association’s (SSGA) annual general meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting, held at the Moose Jaw Exhibition Grounds convention centre, wrapped up the organization’s three-day convention, held to mark its centennial year.

SSGA president Harold Martens said he’s pleased with the turnout, and with the discussions and presentations that took place.

Sunday’s events included a rodeo, barbecue and a barn dance featuring performers Jess Moskaluke and Chris Henderson. The centennial dinner on Monday night attracted close to 300 guests, including all of the surviving former SSGA presidents.

“It was good to have everybody here,” said Martens.

Martens, who ranches 20 miles northeast of Swift Current with his family, said the presentations helped members to understand where Saskatchewan producers sit from a global perspective.

For instance, he cited statistics indicating that the average weight of cattle raised in North America is more than double that of the average for Chinese cattle.

“That was important for our producers to hear and see,” he said. “That capability to produce is what gives us an international market opportunity.”

In addition to nominations and elections for the association board, the Tuesday afternoon saw members discussing, debating and voting on resolutions on a variety of concerns.

Members rejected a resolution calling for the SSGA to end its ban on irradiated beef. The proposal argued that the irradiation process is “a safe and cost-effective way to make food safe” and would improve consumer confidence.

Some groups, including the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, have lauded the process, likening it to the pasteurization process used in milk production.

However, critics of the resolution argued that the SSGA needed to properly gauge public perception of the process before moving forward, calling the resolution “premature.”

Presentations on Tuesday covered various topics, including at-risk species, plastic recycling, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s disease investigation unit, and progress at the Western Beef Development Centre in Lanigan.

In regards to recycling, members approved a resolution calling to withhold the introduction of a point-of-sale levy on plastic products until a program is in place to collect the affected products in as-is condition for recycling.

Members also approved resolutions calling to invest profits from the sale of PFRA pastures into the beef sector, and to support the development of a new lifestock inspection service via a private, industry-led organization, in co-operation with neighbouring provinces.

A resolution to lobby the provincial and federal governments to simplify the process for the Temporary Foreign Workers program was also approved, with members deeming it necessary to address an “acute” labour shortage.

Member Gerry Duckworth told the assembly that an eight-month process, including extended paperwork, is currently required to apply for temporary foreign labour.

“It’s 32 pages that you have to fill out,” he said. “It’s too long.”

The SSGA, a non-profit organization, was formed in 1913 to represent the interests of the cattle industry in regards to legislation. For more information, visit skstockgrowers.com.

Stock growers get down to business – Local – The Moose Jaw Times Herald.

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