Manitoba farm groups to amend merger proposal and consider other collaboration models

Five Manitoba farm groups that published a proposal to amalgamate late last year have signed a second memorandum of understanding to continue exploring how they can work together.

Manitoba Corn Growers Association (MCGA), Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers Association (MPSG), Manitoba Flax Growers Association (MFGA), National Sunflower Association of Canada (NSAC) and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association (MWBGA) signed the MOU on Tuesday.

The amalgamation proposal was discussed at each of these groups’ annual general meetings during CropConnect in Winnipeg in February.

“When the steering committee got together after our AGMs, we thought we needed to further flesh out what the current proposal looks like, and also explore other options of further collaboration outside of legal amalgamation,” explains Pam de Rocquigny, general manager of the Manitoba Corn Growers and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers, in the interview below. “We all realized when we started this that this was going to be a process, and we’re continuing with that, with the intent that we take the time to make sure it’s done right.”

“We share a common goal to represent the best interests of our members. Our intention is to develop a future working relationship that is efficient, effective and advantageous to the farmers we represent. Our vision for the duration of this MOU is to further develop a plan for increased collaboration among like-minded grower groups.”

— MOU signed by five Manitoba commodity groups on Tuesday

The steering committee, which is made up of director representatives and the head staff member from each association, will be amending the amalgamation proposal, with the intent of hosting regional meetings to seek additional feedback from Manitoba farmers.

De Rocquigny says they are also considering models for increased collaboration that do not include merging into a single entity.

“We’re exploring and putting more thought and details into the current proposal that we presented to membership, but then also looking at other options where we could further collaborate together outside of legal amalgamation,” she explains.

Based on feedback from members, she says the main concerns are related to representation for smaller acreage crops, how to facilitate grassroots’ feedback, the reduced number of farmers who would be involved as directors, and issues related to the potentially increased workload for directors, and how this workload would affect young farmer involvement.

The original merger proposal laid out a timeline that would see each of the five organizations vote on resolutions to amalgamate at their AGMs in February 2019, with the new organization taking shape in the summer of 2019. De Rocquigny says that timeline is not set in stone and those dates will be amended as needed.

“As we move forward, if timelines change and when they change, the steering committee will be communicating that to our membership so they’re fully aware of what we’re talking about,” she says.

Four of the five groups already share office space and some staff in Carman. MFGA does not have its own physical space, but is being administered by MPSG, as of February.

Farmers who pay check-offs to these organizations are encouraged to share their feedback with the participating commodity groups or by contacting facilitator Rob Hannam: [email protected]

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Kelvin Heppner

Kelvin Heppner is a field editor and radio host for RealAgriculture and RealAg Radio. He's been reporting on agriculture on the prairies and across Canada since 2008(ish). He farms with his family near Altona, Manitoba, and is on Twitter at @realag_kelvin. @realag_kelvin

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