Starting this summer, the Alberta Barley Commission and the Alberta Wheat Commission will be contacting producers to get their input on developing a fully integrated organization.
The process has been underway for about four years, as the two groups worked on combining their resources.
In 2018, the two groups finalized a shared management structure with Tom Steve serving as General Manager, and a new operating model in place that resulted in a cost saving of $350,000 in year one and $400,000 in year two.
Both commissions agreed in 2019 to explore a more formal amalgamation, and in 2020 an amalgamation subcommittee was formed with equal representation from each commission.
In the "Grain Exchange" newsletter to its members, Steve's talks about some of the issues that still need to be addressed.
First, we will be outlining the value proposition. What’s to be gained from going to the next step? The integrated management team has given us greater capacity and synergies in areas such as research, extension, communications, events, policy and markets, but what additional benefits can be achieved and for that matter, what are the risks if we don’t move forward?
Are there concerns about the loss of barley’s voice, given that wheat is a much larger acreage crop? How will we brand a combined commission?
How will the new board be structured, and how will we ensure strong regional representation at the delegate/regional representative level?
And, how would we divide the check-off dollars? Currently, we have two separate budgets for the commissions.
Consultations will begin in July with an online survey, followed by virtual town hall meetings after harvest in October, with further dialogue and sessions planned during the regional meetings in November.
The consultation is not a formal plebiscite, but an initial step for the commissions to gauge farmers’ opinions on governance amalgamation.
Farmers can learn more here and subscribe to receive consultation updates going forward.