Time gone by
Thelma Dunlop who was secretary/treasurer of the Lanark County Cattlemen’s Association (LCCA) for 33 years holds up the Past Presidents plaque for the association. The LCCA is marking its 50th anniversary in 2018.      Pinder-Moss photo

by Dianne Pinder-Moss
AgriNews Contributor
LANARK COUNTY – While the name is not the same as it was 50 years ago when it was founded, one thing has remained unchanged with the Lanark County Cattlemen’s Association (LCCA).

And that is the association’s tireless work to advocate and be a voice for the county’s beef farmers.

“We represent beef farmers in Lanark County,” states current president Steve Bartlett.

One of 49 county and district associations of the Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO), the LCCA had its beginnings as the Lanark Beef Improvement Association (LBIA). An organizational meeting was held in 1967 with the constitution being adopted in January 1968. At that time, the provincial body was known as the Ontario Beef Improvement Association (OBIA).

The first president of the local association was Hugh Grace. Also on the founding board, as noted in old minutes, were Gordon James as vice-president and Mac Bolton as secretary-treasurer. Directors were Clarence Boal, Kevin Brady, Pat Brady, Keith Brunton, Chas Hollinger, Mack James, James McIntyre and Elmer Purdon.

When the provincial body decided to align its name with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and become the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) in 1976 – Grace later became president of the OCA –, the LBIA followed its lead and became known as the LCCA.

That was not the case, however, in 2013 when the provincial organization underwent another transition to become the BFO.

“We simply felt all our letterhead had been updated recently,” explained long-time director Gordon Patterson. “The cost of changing over immediately was kind of expensive.”

A motion put forward at the annual general meeting of the LCCA in January 2016 to continue using its existing name was approved.

As a director with the county association since 1971-72 – he also served a term as president of the LCCA in 1979-80 and has previously represented the county on the provincial board – Patterson believes the longevity of the organization is due to all the directors’ “vested interest in promoting the beef business.”

“There is a genuine interest to promote beef producers,” the Maberly area beef farmer stated. “One of our biggest promoters is (director) Dave Campbell.”

The dedication of those who have served on the LCCA is very evident. Thelma Dunlop who was the secretary-treasurer for 33 years until 2017 indicates that, if it was not for ill health, she would still be active in the organization.

Getting initially involved when her late husband Bob was a director and the secretary-treasurer at that time had retired, Thelma says she continued on through the years because “I found it interesting and it was challenging.”

“My husband always said he learned a lot from it,” she mentioned. With the LCCA being represented on the BFO, “they carry information to and from the provincial organization.”

Campbell agrees, saying the LCCA has an important role to play in bringing county producers “up to date on what is going on in Ontario, Canada and the world.”

An example provided by Patterson was the BSE crisis in 2003-2005. Recently, the association has made local beef farmers aware of Ontario’s new rabies immunization requirements for livestock that came into effect on July 1.

As part of the information sharing, workshops have also been held by the LCCA. Such was the case when a new national Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle was released in mid-2013.

As well, Patterson says the LCCA supports 4-H beef clubs in the county and was a “big supporter” of the Perth Fair steer show for many years. Likewise each year, the association sets up an information booth at the fair and has representation on the Lanark County Agricultural Advisory Working Group.

In addition, the LCCA hosts an annual dinner and dance, which has continued to be a popular event over the years.

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the LCCA is planning some special activities for the Lanark County Harvest Festival at Beckwith Park on Sun., Sept. 9. While details are still being finalized, Campbell who is chairing the anniversary committee says a scroll listing the names of all the directors over the past five decades will be part of a display highlighting the LCCA’s history. All surviving directors are being invited to attend. As well, to mark the occasion, beef — stew and possibly chilli — will be on the menu of the festival’s annual harvest church supper. Further information can be obtained by contacting Campbell at 613-268-2138 or Bartlett at 613-256-3042.

According to information provided by BFO, of the 19,000 beef farmers in Ontario, there are at least 325 producers in Lanark County alone.

With “Quick Facts about Ontario’s Beef Industry” on the provincial organization’s website showing the average age of a farm operator in Ontario being 55 years, Bartlett views that as a challenge for the industry as it moves forward.

“The next 10 years are going to make a difference for the industry,” he said. “Not a lot of younger guys are getting into the industry.”

While the beef industry is a business, ask Thelma for some of her fondest memories related to the LCCA and they centre on her love of her cattle. Now that she no longer lives on the family farm at Balderson, there’s nothing she enjoys more than to visit and watch the livestock.

“I can sit for many hours on the deck and talk to my cows,” she shared. “I do like the cattle part of it.”