Concert kicks off ranch aid fund

A new fundraising campaign gets underway this weekend to help Canada's ranchers get through the mad cow crisis.

A new fundraising campaign gets underway this weekend to help Canada's ranchers get through the mad cow crisis.

The RanchAid Trust Fund will be created from public donations which it will use to buy old cattle that are essentially worthless since prices have collapsed due to the mad cow border closure.

"What we want to do is go to auction markets, buy the cull cows that currently aren't worth anything, try and get the price up per pound, and take the cows that we buy and donate them to the food banks," said Bruce Banks, executive director of the 4-H Foundation of Alberta, which will administer the fund.

The fundraising campaign kicks off on Saturday with a free concert in Calgary. The lineup for the show boasts such names as Michelle Wright, George Fox, Jason McCoy and Steppenwolf.

Admission to the concert was initially set at $40. Organizers are offering refunds to those who have already bought their ducats.

Actor-singer Tom Jackson says the whole country needs to contribute to the fund.

"Call it a Band-Aid," Jackson said. "I'm all about a Band-Aid, 'cause if you don't stop the bleeding, what's going to happen?"

Pincher Creek Rancher Frank Jenkins said he knows what happens.

"If we do not hold this cow herd together and keep the ranchers on the land, then we won't have much need for feedlots or packers because we won't have anything to put through them. We are now basically in a position where we are eating our equity," said Jenkins.

Jackson was joined at a news photo-op on Wednesday by former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Brian Tobin, and former Ontario premier Mike Harris, who said average Canadians are bound to support the fund, as they did last year when the crisis first hit.

"I might ad, consumers did rally. Consumers in Ontario rallied. I personally put on 10 pounds since July," said Harris.

Feedlot owner Rick Pascal, who has been involved in organizing the fund, says the trust is not meant to compete with or to criticize existing government relief programs.

"I don't think anybody has done enough, collectively, until the border is open. I really appreciate the efforts of our governments … our Canadian Cattlemen's Association, our Alberta Beef Producers, they're all working very hard. When the border's open, then we've all done enough work."

The concert at Deerfoot Meadows begins at 11 a.m.