Four Manitoba commodity groups still exploring amalgamation

Plots representing provincial commodity groups at Crops-a-Palooza in Portage, Manitoba last month.

The number of commodity groups in Manitoba that are exploring the possibility of amalgamating has dropped from five to four.

Following a meeting in late July, the Manitoba Corn Growers Association (MCGA), Manitoba Flax Growers Association (MFGA), National Sunflower Association of Canada (NSAC) and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Association (MWBGA) have decided to continue moving toward having their members decide whether to form a single organization.

According to an update from these groups on Tuesday, the Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers Association is no longer listed as one of the groups formally exploring a possible merger.

The remaining groups say a steering committee, made up of farmer-director representatives from the four groups and staff, will continue to consult with producers, while an amended proposal exploring amalgamation is developed.

“I believe it is the time to look more closely at how Manitoba commodity organizations operate, with the end goal of how we can better serve our members — Manitoba farmers,” says Myron Krahn, past president of the Manitoba Corn Growers Association, in a news release. “Many farmers belong to multiple commodity organizations. Imagine what we could accomplish together if an administratively efficient organization was formed that allowed focus on crop-specific issues, increased research and agronomic capacity, included a mechanism to allow farmers of any age or gender to serve on the new organization, and enhanced grassroots involvement.”

The steering committee is also determining the next steps “to ensure an adequate consultation period for members to review the revised proposal, including when a membership vote would occur and how.”

“We have said from the beginning that farmer members need to drive this and we as directors need to make sure that happens,” says MWBGA chair Fred Greig.

The decision by the four groups to continue pursuing possible amalgamation came after a steering committee meeting in late July where representatives from the five groups reviewed details on an updated proposal and a model that did not include legal amalgamation.

“NSAC is willing and happy to proceed with like-minded organizations to ensure the best investments into research and market development,” notes NSAC president Mark McDonald. “From the initial Memorandum of Understanding signed in May 2017, we committed to consultation with membership to make sure farmers from each commodity organization have a voice. We also committed to allowing membership to make the decision.”

Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers joins the Manitoba Canola Growers as provincial groups that are notably on the sidelines for the amalgamation discussion.

The groups continue to work together in organizing events and education opportunities for members, including the recent inaugural Crops-a-Palooza field day in Portage, and the annual Crop Connect conference in Winnipeg.

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