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Alberta Beef - A Story of People and Resources (Rich Smith, Alberta Beef Producers)

Alberta Institute of Agrologists 13th Annual Conference on Agriculture, Food and the Environment

Agriculture: Resources & Policy Session

March 16, 2017

Rich Smith, Executive Director of Alberta Beef Producers, provides an overview of the history and current work of the Alberta Beef Producers. The iconic Alberta cattle and beef industry and the consumer branded Alberta Beef are truly examples of people and resource coming together to create a vibrant success story. Our industry has a long history, rich heritage, and strong traditions. We trace the beginnings of Alberta Beef to 1874, a time when the large bison herds that roamed the North American prairies had largely disappeared. A few visionary people began using the abundant grasslands and less abundant water resources of Alberta to raise cattle and provide beef for the Northwest Mounted Police (forerunner of the RCMP), the First Nations people, and the workers building our national railroad.

Now, over 140 years after the beginning of our industry, our cattle and beef producers continue to use the people and resources of this province to support 40% of the cows, 70% of the cattle feeding, and 70% of the beef processing in Canada. We export Alberta Beef across Canada, to the United States, and to customers around the world. Our industry still relies on resilient and farsighted people: the farmers and ranchers who produce the cattle and the workers who turn the cattle into beef. In the face of growing pressure and intense competition, we need the land and water resources of this province to sustain our industry. The people may have changed, but their values and their dependence on grass and water resources haven’t changed. Our story of people and resources is still unfolding.