The new agency responsible for marketing Canadian beef in domestic and international markets is up and running.

Canada Beef Inc. was formed through the merger of the Canada Beef Export Federation, Beef Information Centre and National Check-off Agency.

"Canada Beef is really one organization that has assumed the responsibilities of those three," explains Canadian Cattlemen's Association past-president Brad Wildeman, who was elected chair of the 16 member board at the Canada Beef's first board meeting last week.

Winnipegosis-area cattle producer Dane Guignon was elected vice-chair, while the management team will be led by Rob Meijer, former director with Cargill Limited, who has been appointed president.

"We've been working on this for several months. It's been discussed for many years, and really in the last year we've spent a lot of time in getting this together," says Wildeman. "We're still finalizing all the employees, who will work for us, trying to put them in the right spots. There are those meat and potato issues that have to happen, but one of the most important things is to have a new strategic marketing plan that will take us out for two to three years."

"Obviously there are new dynamics in the business - a smaller herd and different markets that are open. We need to look at how we maximize value for our producers. We want to do that through the fall and have that done by Christmas time," he says.

Wildeman says they believe they can save over a million dollars a year in gained efficiencies.

"Instead of having three boards we only have one. Instead of having three senior staff people, we only have one. We're looking forward to being able to take that million dollars or more each year and put that towards marketing beef. If that's the case, that should help us quite a bit."