When five provincial crop associations in Manitoba announced they had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to merge earlier this week, there was one commodity group notably absent.
The Manitoba Canola Growers Association has issued a statement, explaining why its board has decided to monitor the merger discussions, but not participate in the MOU.
“Canola has been a part of the commodity group merger talks since inception,” notes MCGA president Charles (Chuck) Fossay. “We applaud the efforts of the Manitoba Corn Growers, Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers, National Sunflower Association, Manitoba Wheat and Barley Association and the Manitoba Flax Growers Association to explore merger potential.”
MCGA points out canola sector organizations are already well-established, with provincial counterparts in SaskCanola and Alberta Canola Producer Commission, the Canola Council of Canada connecting the canola value chain, and a national policy voice through the Canadian Canola Growers Association.
“The maturity of the canola value chain affords us opportunities on a national and international stage that we would not want to lose and have to keep in mind as we move forward,” notes Rivers-area farmer and MCGA director Ron Krahn.
“Some of our key points of concern are: narrowing of farmer representation with potentially fewer directors around the table leaving us with a small voice for our members, increased workload for farm directors, weakening our relationship with our current strong canola alliances, inefficiencies of a larger organization, and potential addition of staff,” continues Krahn.
MCGA will “continue to look for collaboration opportunities in research, education and promotion, and member relations in order to leverage check off dollars,” adds executive director Bill Ross. (A search is currently underway to replace Ross, who will be retiring this summer.)
The five groups that signed the merger MOU say they would welcome other groups after the first phase of the process is completed in April 2018. MCGA says it will monitor the progress of what the potential merger may look like and evaluate whether to join after April 30, 2018.
Based on Statistics Canada acreage data from 2016, the groups that have signed the merger commitment represent roughly 60 percent of the check-off eligible annual crop acres in Manitoba. Canola accounts for approximately 33 percent.