Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions launching farmer consultations on formal amalgamation
The Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions are launching a consultation this summer to solicit farmers’ opinions on amalgamating to form a single commission. Since 2018 the commissions have been operating with one management team serving two boards and separate financial structures. The consultation will begin in July with an online survey, followed by online town hall events after harvest in October, with further dialogue and sessions during Regional Meeting events in November.
The consultation with wheat and barley farmers stems from resolutions passed at the 2019 annual general meetings (AGMs) for both the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley. The resolutions challenged the commissions to complete a comprehensive review on the potential to formally merge AWC and Alberta Barley.
“What started as a pilot project in 2018 to merge the management and staff of Alberta Barley and AWC has resulted in meaningful efficiencies and cost savings for both organizations,” says Tara Sawyer, Alberta Barley chair. “Through collaboration, the commissions have leveraged synergies, removed duplication and in-turn expanded key priority areas such as research and agronomic extension. The future of the organizations is at a crossroads so farmer participation is key during this pivotal time.”
To conduct the review of potentially merging the two organizations, the commissions formed an amalgamation sub-committee comprised of current and past directors, regional representatives and delegates from both commissions.
As a key objective for the amalgamation sub-committee, a draft model of an amalgamated governance structure has been developed for farmers’ consideration during the consultation period. The proposed model consists of one board of 12 farmers representing wheat and barley farmers from six regions in Alberta (two directors per region). The delegate body would consist of four positions from each region, for a total of 24 farmers. Research, market development, agronomy and extension, policy advocacy and farm business management would remain top priorities for the proposed single organization and funding would be merit-based.
“Currently the commissions operate with separate governance structures, yet share a management team that reports to both boards,” says Todd Hames, AWC chair. “It’s up to Alberta wheat and barley farmers to determine whether this is sustainable or if merging is the path forward. We encourage wheat and barley growers to learn more and get engaged in the consultation process.”
The consultation launching this summer is not a formal plebiscite but an initial step for the commissions to gauge farmers’ opinions on governance amalgamation. Alberta wheat and barley farmers can expect the online survey to go live at the beginning of July. Farmers can learn more by visiting wheatbarleyconsultation.com and subscribe to receive consultation updates going forward.
Interim Communications Manager
Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions