Gary Smith Receives Don Matthews Memorial Award

CALGARY, ALBERTA March 22, 2017   

Gary D. Smith has been selected to receive the Don Matthews Memorial Award at the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Beef Breeds Council (Council) to be held in Calgary, March 22, 2017.

The Don Matthews Memorial Award was instituted in honour of the late Don Matthews, a Past President of CBBC as well as many other accomplishments including the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame. The award is presented by the Canadian Beef Breeds Council to an individual who exemplifies excellence and passion in the purebred beef cattle industry.

Gary completed his degree in Agriculture from the University of Alberta and returned to the family farm Poplar Haven Farms. In 1969, the family searched for a new breed of cattle and after a trip to France, Gary’s father settled on breeding Maine-Anjou. Poplar Haven was home to many of the breed foundation animals.  Gary continued to breed Maine’s with his family at NuHaven Cattle Co. until his passing.

In the early 1980’s, while serving as the Canadian Maine-Anjou Association’s president, Gary was also president of the Alberta Cattle Breeds Association. A contact in Mexico that Gary made during his time with ACBA, called him and wanted a load of cattle and insisted that Gary was the person to do it. That fateful request was the beginning of a lifetime in the export business. In the mid 1980’s, Gary and Roger Peters created Prairie West Livestock and for roughly five years, Prairie West operated in Mexico shipping multitudes of animals south.

In 1990, Gary created Canadian Livestock International and expanded his markets to Columbia, Brazil and China. This expansion saw him loading planes of cattle out of Miami, Chicago and Edmonton.

In 1994, Canadian Livestock, was sold to Alta Genetics and Gary began contracting to Alta Genetics. He not only continued to develop the markets that he was operating in, but developed China as an export market. For many years Gary, sold countless loads of Holstein cattle and genetics as well as technology to China. He also began importing. While traveling to South Africa, he sourced Boer goats and Alta Genetics began selling Boer goat embryos. From Australia, Gary sourced the Lowline breed and some of the first Lowline embryos in North America were born at Poplar Haven Farms. He also began importing a breed of cattle not seen in North America before, the Bonsmara embryos were imported from South Africa then put in Alberta heifers and sold to a client in Texas.

Alta Genetics restructured in 1999 and Gary and two others formed Alta Exports International. China continued to serve as the primary market for dairy embryos and live cattle. In May 2003, when all markets closed due to the BSE case in Canada, there was $12 million dollars in outstanding orders. Gary fought tirelessly to find and open markets for Canadian livestock and genetics. He continually worked with CFIA to create export protocols that would be achievable for Canadian exporters. In 2005, he organized a trip to Russia to promote Canadian cattle. Representatives from many breeds, CBBC, CFIA and Alberta Agriculture travelled to Russia. This trip opened the Russian market. In 2007, the first shipment of 2200 animals were sent to Russia. Several ships were to follow as well as orders for semen and embryos. In 2009, 7 747 plane loads of cattle arrived in Kazakhstan.

Gary’s passports serve as a testament to his business but his efforts in working with CFIA to develop protocols is a testament to the industry.

Gary served the industry in many positions, he was a director on the Alberta Cattle Commission, Canadian Maine Anjou Association President, Alberta Cattle Breeds Association President, Director for Canadian Beef Breeds Council, and a steering committee member for ALMA.

Gary enjoyed judging breed shows, and judged the Sydney Royal, Toronto Royal, shows in Mexico, Columbia, the United States and throughout Western Canada.

Gary was very proud of his family, his wife Kristine, son Guy and his family of Altus, Oklahoma and daughter Kelly and her family of Pine Lake, Ab. Gary unfortunately passed away suddenly from a heart attack November 11, 2015 at the age of 69 at his ranch at Pine Lake.

CBBC’s vision is to provide a unified voice in support of the purebred genetics provided within the Canadian beef cattle industry. Its mission is to ensure the continuity, growth and prosperity of the Canadian purebred cattle sector as an integral component of the Canadian beef cattle industry.  

Its mandate is to support Canadian purebred cattle producers through service provision aimed at genetic improvement, animal health, extension services and information dissemination; promote Canadian beef cattle genetics both domestically and internationally by identifying market opportunities, facilitating access through timely intelligence and informing the commercial industry of the attributes of the Canadian beef advantage both at home and abroad; represent the purebred cattle sector to government by advocating effective policy, ensuring market access and enhancing competitiveness.

For more information: 

Michael Latimer, Executive Director, Canadian Beef Breeds Council  T: 403.730.0350