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Waning interest means annual beef producers meeting could be canceled

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. -- An annual meeting of B.C.'s beef industry could be cancelled next year if participation by producers continues to decline. "Basically, if we don't keep the numbers up, then we're talking about cancelling the congress," said ...

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. -- An annual meeting of B.C.'s beef industry could be cancelled next year if participation by producers continues to decline.

"Basically, if we don't keep the numbers up, then we're talking about cancelling the congress," said Jason McQuaig of the 2010 Peace Country Beef Congress.

"It's been dropping about 20 per cent each year, and that's over the past five years," McQuaig said of interest in the annual meetings that have been held for the last 12 years.

Next year's gathering is slated for Jan. 8 and 9 in High Prairie, Alta.

McQuaig said the poor beef market in North America and the resulting exodus of people in the industry are among the reasons for the waning interest in the beef producers' congress.

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The ranching industry is in a brutal downturn that started with the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Canadian cattle six years ago.

McQuaig said he's hoping new breeders who are producing cattle in the Peace region will make up for the loss, but they will have to be convinced of the importance of attending such an event.

In addition to the prizes awarded at the congress, producers who place well as exhibitors get noticed.

"It's a very prestigious event," McQuaig said. "If you win it, it is good advertising."

McQuaig said low beef prices have made life tough for farmers, but that only means they have to push their product even harder.

"When times get tough, advertising is one place you can't make cuts," he said. "You need to let people know 'I'm still in the business, I'm still serious about things."'

"Everybody who is going out there to purchase animals from the purebred exhibitors, well (the congress) gives them very good exposure to the commercial cattle industry."

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