The board of directors for the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission has decided against joining Cereals Canada, despite a motion from its members to take a seat at the table of the national industry organization.
Representing the country’s largest cereal crop-producing province, the Saskatchewan wheat group is notably absent from the list of members in Cereals Canada.
The SaskWheat board had one year to consider and respond to a resolution to join Cereals Canada after it was passed in January 2016.
“All the other major players in the wheat industry are at the table at Cereals Canada and Saskatchewan needs to be as well,” said Corey Loessin, Radisson-area farmer, after introducing the motion at SaskWheat’s 2016 annual meeting.
As chair Bill Gehl explains in the interview below, representatives from SaskWheat and Cereals Canada met several times over the past year.
“I think we’ve shown we’ve done our due diligence. We spent a significant amount of time and resources looking at Cereals Canada and we take it very seriously,” he says.
The structure of Cereals Canada’s board of directors, which is split three ways between farmers, life science companies and grain companies, was one of the factors in the decision, says Gehl.
“We weren’t real comfortable with the way Cereals Canada is set up, with farmers being in the minority.” he notes.
Gehl also suggests SaskWheat’s voice is heard nationally through participation in other industry groups and institutions, referring to the Canada Grains Council, the Canadian International Grains Institute (CIGI), the Healthy Grains Institute and the federal government’s Grains Roundtable.
“Cereals Canada has three employees, where a group like CIGI has a lot more employees and a lot more capacity to do things,” he says.
Producer group members in Cereals Canada include the Manitoba Wheat & Barley Growers Association, the Alberta Wheat Commission, the BC Grain Producers Association, Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Federation des producers de cultures commerciales du Quebec and the Atlantic Grains Council.
SaskWheat chair Bill Gehl following the group’s 2017 AGM in Saskatoon this week: