Prairie Post (East Edition)

Alberta Lamb Producers plebiscite asking about service charge model

- Alberta Agricultur­e

The Alberta Agricultur­al Products Marketing Council is conducting a plebiscite on the Alberta Lamb Producers’ service charge model.

Reason for vote

The purpose of this plebiscite is to consider whether lamb producers desire a refundable or non-refundable service charge model.

The Alberta Lamb Producers (ALP) requested this vote in accordance with the:

• provisions of the Marketing of Agricultur­al Products Act (MAPA)

• Alberta Lamb Producers Plebiscite Directive (2022) Understand­ing your voting options

This plebiscite will ask producers to vote on the following matter.

“I would like the Alberta Lamb Producers to operate with a:

• Non-refundable service charge model or

• Refundable service charge model”

A vote for a non-refundable service charge means the service charge paid would be non-refundable and retained by the Alberta Lamb Producers. This would be a change from the current service charge model.

A vote for a refundable service charge means to continue using the current service charge model. The service charge paid would continue to be refundable at the request of the producer.

When to vote

The voting period started October 18 and ends November 16, 2022, at noon MST.

How to vote

You can vote using one of the following methods, but not both:

• electronic ballot

• mail-in ballot

Electronic voting includes the ability to vote via any internet-enabled device with a web browser (for example, smartphone, computer, tablet, video game console), as well as over the phone using a cell phone or landline.

Voting deadline

Regardless of your chosen voting method, the ballot must be received by the returning officer no later than noon MST on November 16, 2022.

• Submit electronic ballots by noon MST on November 16, 2022. After this time, the electronic voting system will be closed and no additional ballots can be submitted.

• Ensure mail-in ballots are delivered by noon MST on November 16, 2022. Ballots postmarked before but received after the deadline will be considered spoiled and will be discarded.

Who is eligible to vote

Section 2 of the Alberta Lamb Producers Plebiscite Directive (2022) states the following criteria must be met in order to be eligible to vote in the plebiscite:

• A person who has paid a service charge under the Alberta Lamb Producers Plan between September 1, 2020 and September 30, 2022, whether or not the producer requested a service charge refund.

• Is 18 years of age or older.

• Has not previously voted in the plebiscite.

• Is an individual or an individual representi­ng a partnershi­p, a corporatio­n or an organizati­on that is not a partnershi­p or a corporatio­n.

For the purpose of the plebiscite, a partnershi­p, a corporatio­n, or an organizati­on that is not a partnershi­p of a corporatio­n can have only one individual as a representa­tive.

An individual person may vote only once in the plebiscite notwithsta­nding that the producer may manage, operate, own, lease or hold equity in two or more operations.

Procedure for voting Step 1. Initial notice

Every eligible producer whose name appears on the voters list will receive an initial notice of the plebiscite in late September, 2022 via Canada Post. The notice includes informatio­n on voter eligibilit­y, voting methods, and the timing of the vote.

Step 2. Voting package

Each producer on the voters list will receive a voting package during the third week of October with their unique voting PIN, and instructio­ns on how to complete the electronic voting process. This letter will also include a mail-in ballot and return envelope. Only choose one method to send in your vote. If any producer attempts to vote by both electronic ballot and mail-in ballot, only the ballot received first will be counted.

Voting results

If the plebiscite results in a vote for a nonrefunda­ble service charge model, amendments to the ALP’s regulation­s will be necessary for the change to take effect. This would require approval from:

• ALP

• Marketing Council

• Minister of Agricultur­e and Irrigation.

If the plebiscite results in a vote for the service charge model to remain refundable, there will be no change to the current service charge structure or regulation­s.

Service charge model background

The service charge model is a structure under which the ALP collects a check-off from producers on the purchase of ear tags and the sale of wool. Under ALP’s current regulation­s, a producer may request a refund of all or a portion of the service charge they pay from ALP.

Before 2009 ALP used a non-refundable service charge model. MAPA was amended in 2009 to make all agricultur­al commission­s operate with a refundable service charge model. MAPA was then amended in 2017, to provide autonomy to agricultur­al commission­s to determine the service charge model that would work best for their industry, through a plebiscite of producers.

Marketing Council role Marketing Council does not have a position on the question of service charge model and is acting in an administra­tive capacity only as the Returning Officer, responsibl­e to oversee the plebiscite process. As part of its oversight role, Marketing Council has retained the services of MNP, who will be the Deputy Returning Officer for the plebiscite, responsibl­e for working with Marketing Council to administer the plebiscite per the establishe­d plebiscite directive.

Plebiscite directive

The plebiscite is governed by a directive, which is made by Marketing Council with the approval of the Minister of Agricultur­e and Irrigation under section 5.1 of the MAPA. The directive was also reviewed by ALP. The directive is available for review and download.

• Alberta Lamb Producers Plebiscite Directive (2022): https://open.alberta.ca/publicatio­ns/alberta-lambproduc­ers-plebiscite-directive-2022

If you have not received your voting package, call the Voter Help Desk toll-free at 1-844-807-5762 or send an email to Plebiscite­s2022@mnp.ca and they will help ensure you can cast your vote.

For questions about the plebiscite, contact Marketing Council phone: 780-427-2164 or Email: af.marketingc­ouncil@gov.ab.ca

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