The Canola Council of Canada is moving on without a core funder for 2018, as Richardson International went public with its withdrawal from the national canola industry group this week.
Richardson has said it did not receive enough value to justify its investment in the Canola Council, after pushing for changes to the council over the last several years.
The major canola processor and exporter has urged the council to restructure and potentially merge with the Flax Council of Canada and Soy Canada to form a multi-crop oilseed organization. Richardson would also like to see the Canola Council streamline its activities, with a priority on market access issues. (Listen to Richardson’s perspective here.)
Canola Council President Jim Everson was in Brandon at Manitoba Ag Days on Tuesday, and discussed Richardson’s departure.
“I would say we have a very strong value chain membership. All the other members and funders of the Canola Council are continuing to be funders,” he says. “Richardson has raised issues around what they would like to see in terms of reform of the Canola Council. They are very legitimate points and Council is working to address not only those, but issues that have been raised by others.”
Everson acknowledges it’s unfortunate that Richardson is no longer on the Canola Council board.
“Broadly, I think the board and membership covets having the full value chain together. Richardson is obviously a very important company, and so the board’s view would be that it would be good to have Richardson around the board table. On the other hand, we have a very strong value chain,” he says.
“It’s not just one company’s interests. It’s a broad value chain and there’s a broad group of interests, and I would say the Canola Council’s credibility has been its capacity to bring together the value chain and deal with disparate views, bring everyone together and come to a compromise position.”
Multiple sources say another major exporter and processor shares similar views as Richardson and has reduced its funding for the council in 2018. Everson says the board will continue to work on addressing these concerns through the next year.
“Definitely we want to look at how we partner with other organizations, how we can be efficient with our resources, how we can be efficient with the resources of our members…so we look at all those issues, but it takes time to do that and there are a number of voices around the table,” he says.
Amidst the upheaval, Canola Council directors have approved a reduced budget and a related work plan for 2018, confirms Everson, including a cut to spending on market development — one of the four pillars of the Canola Council’s mandate, along with market access, agronomy and research.)
“We have reduced our market development work for 2018. We will be looking at that whole area going forward,” he says. “But as I say, we have very strong consensus for moving forward…”
Hear Everson’s perspective on Richardson’s departure and the future of the Canola Council in the interview below: