Rocky View County resident Lee Irvine was re-elected to his second two-year term as a director-at-large for the Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) back on March 1.
Irvine, who lives in northwest RVC between Cochrane and Bottrel, felt his overarching purpose for being involved with the ABP is to help work toward aligning the vision of the organization with the industry’s grassroots members. This is in order to ensure governmental policies remain relevant to Alberta ranchers, he explained, and they are getting their money’s worth from the ABP’s mandatory check-off, which all producers must pay into.
The ABP represents beef producers from all across Alberta and lobbies their interests to policymakers in government.
“I am proud the ABP includes a whole lot of sectors,” Irvine explained. “We have people from the feedlot industry sitting around the table. We have cow-calf operations at the table. We have backgrounders. We have some auction guys sitting around the table.
“If you want to call it ‘One Voice,’ I think the ABP has been working on that for a while, and I see it getting closer and closer to fruition. Being able to be the voice of all the beef industry in Alberta and being able to bring that one voice to government.”
Irvine said he originally let his name stand for election to the ABP board of directors because he felt strongly about giving back to the industry he makes his living in. In his day job, Irvine is an independent cattle broker and general manager with TrustBix, responsible for the company’s ViewTrak system.
“I have made a living out of cattle my whole life through off-farm incomes, and I thought it’s time to give back a little bit to the industry,” he stated.
The reason he let his name stand for a second term, Irvine explained, is he has seen the good work the ABP accomplishes with his own eyes. He cited the example of the federal government’s aborted attempts to include warning labels on ground beef for being high in saturated fats while ignoring the health benefits of ground beef as a nutritious source of protein and nutrients.
“The federal government wanted to put misleading facts on ground beef,” said Irvine. “ABP actually stood up and worked side by side with the Alberta government to get that changed. That kind of advocacy is essential to what we do.”
Irvine also cited the ABP’s advocacy work on behalf of drought-stricken cattle producers in 2021-22 to bring in Alberta government relief programs that were actually accessible and useful.
Irvine said he expects ABP’s strong advocacy work to ramp up a few notches over the next few months as Alberta heads into a provincial election campaign. He said the organization’s goal is to continue ensuring the voice of the cattle industry is heard loud and clear, as the cattle industry is often misunderstood by an increasingly urbanized electorate.
“I live northwest of Cochrane, and this ground is ideal for growing cattle,” he explained. “It is hilly. It is rocky. And that’s what this community of Cochrane was founded on – on ranches and cattle work.
“These cattle are part of the environmental sustainability of this region. They help to upcycle grass. They help to sequester carbon. There is a significant amount of return, from an environmental standpoint, of these cattle on the land. There is also a huge economic benefit to what these cattle, and what these large ranches, bring to these smaller, regional communities.”