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Alberta Beef Producers hold online AGM, elect new executive

Melanie Wowk takes over as organization’s chair at March 4 AGM
wes - MELANIE wowk
Melanie Wowk of Beauvallon is the new chair for Alberta Beef Producers. Wowk was elected to the position at the ABP annual general meeting held online March 4.

WESTLOCK - What has been a year of many changes for Alberta Beef Producers continued last Thursday, March 4 with the organization’s first online-only AGM — in the past, the event has been held in early December in Calgary, with one exception when it was held in Edmonton.

This year, the meeting was handled by some of the staff in the Calgary office, with directors, delegates, and guests from the new five zones joining in; at one point 56 were viewing the proceedings online. And instead of held over a three-day period, the entire meeting was held in just a few hours. While the AGM usually included a number of extra presentations, this year’s was kept to basically ABP business.

The meeting started off just after 10 a.m. with the introduction of 31 delegates. When all zones have full representation, there will be seven delegates representing each of the five zones with two with a total of four vacancies. The central zone (the one representing the local area) is short one delegate, and the north west zone in the Peace River area still has three vacancies.

The chair of this year’s AGM was Howard Bekering, a past delegate and director from the former zone 1, and currently chairs the ABP governance committee.   

In her final role as ABP chairperson, Kelly Smith-Fraser of Red Deer County said 2020 was a year unlike any in the past for the organization.

“This has been an absolutely monumental year. We’ve re-elected our entire delegate body, and we do have four delegates who are new to the organization. I want to welcome our new and all our returning delegates. Today, you’ll hear about what we’ve been working on and have the chance to make decisions about the future and the direction of our organization. This meeting and the resolution process are different this year, but the ABP staff have been hard at work to make sure things go as efficiently as possible.”

Bekering noted that prior to the AGM, elections were held for the ABP board of directors, the Beef Cattle Research Council representatives and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association Board members.

The 2021 board includes Darren Bevins, Brodie Haugen Kent Holowath, Fred Lozeman, and Jason Hale (southeast zone); Colin Campbell and Rod Carlyon (central zone); Sheila Hilmer, Christ Israelson, Fred Lozeman and Lee Irvine (southwest zone); Mike Nadeau (northwest zone); and Melanie Wowk (northeast zone).  Representatives going to the Beef Cattle Research Council includes Lee Irvine (southwest zone) and Craig Lehr (southeast zone). Representing Alberta at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association include Charlie Christie (former ABP chair), Sheila Hillmer (southwest zone Zone), George L’Heureux (northeast zone) Doug Sawyer (former ABP Chair), Cathy Sharp (central zone), Kelly Smith Frazer (southwest zone) and Miles Wowk.

ABP general manager Brad Dubeau also spoke at one point, as well as Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen, who joined the meeting for a few remarks.  The meeting also included other presentations, and at the end of the AGM shortly before 3 p.m., the board met and elected the new executive.

The new chairperson is Melanie Wowk of Beauvallon in the new northeast zone. She was the past vice-chair. The new vice-chair is Jason Hale of Bassano, and the new finance chair is Brodie Haugan of Orion, both from the southeast zone.

“I haven’t even had a chance with my executive yet, but we’re going to move ahead with what we’ve been doing with our general manger and our new magazine and platforms that we’re bringing forth to the producers in the province. It’s something they’ve been asking for a long, long time,” she said in a follow-up interview. “This is what we’ve come up with and we’re just really hoping that they find value in it and can glean a lot more information about what ABP is up to.”

She said ever since she’s been on ABP, she has heard every fall meeting, “You guys don’t communicate, we don’t know what you’re doing, what’s our check-off dollars going to.”

 “So this (the magazine) is our response, and I think it’s a good one. I was pretty impressed with that first issue and results of the daily ABP site on the Internet (ABP Daily). There’s daily news on there and daily articles. And hopefully, we’ll be launching an app soon because everybody’s always got their phone on them. We’ve just tried, and this is what we came up with, and we really hope it works.”

Most often, the chairperson has been someone from the southern part of the province. Wowk noted, “It’s kind of exciting to have someone from north of (Highway) 16 (as chairperson).

Although she’s very familiar with ABP and staff, she said, “I’m really excited. We have a new executive. Jason Hale is new as our vice-chair and Brodie Haugen is new as our finance chair and we’ve got a brand new GM.”

She said she is hoping with the changes, producers will see the value in where their money (the check-off dollars) is going. “We’re looking forward to a new year and we’re excited about bringing new ideas forward, and hopefully getting some more support from our producers.”

Les Dunford,