SaskPulse members in attendance at the organization’s annual general meeting in Saskatoon on Monday voted in favour of making the group’s levy refundable.
Established in 1984, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers is funded by a non-refundable check-off of one per cent of the gross value of all pulses marketed at the first point of sale — the only provincial crop levy in Saskatchewan that is not refundable. The motion, which was introduced by Cherilyn Nagel, directs the SPG board to “ask the provincial government to amend its regulations to make its check-off refundable.”
“It’s directional to the board to look at an issue that’s of concern to farmers. We take these concerns very seriously and we will address it as soon as our board meeting next week,” says Tim Wiens, SaskPulse chair, in the interview above.
Several growers expressed concerns at the meeting about SaskPulse’s growing bank reserves. The group experienced a surplus of approximately $2 million in 2014-15 after budgeting for a $2.5 million deficit.
“It’s a surplus by happenstance and not by planning,” says Wiens. “We have been the beneficiary of that as an industry over the last eight or nine years, where acres have climbed significantly, prices have climbed significantly and our expenditures have not caught up with revenues.”
He says the SPG board has a year to respond to the resolution and will introduce a plan to address it at or before next year’s annual meeting. The levy is governed by The Saskatchewan Pulse Crop Development Plan and The Agri-Food Act.
Among the group’s major expenditures is a funding agreement for pulse breeding work with the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre. Wiens says they’re in the final phases of negotiating a contract extension, noting “our organization has every intention of continuing on with the Crop Development Centre being our primary plant breeders.”