Sometimes the work of producer commissions isn’t easily visible, even to the farmers that pay the check-off. Certainly, to a group of university students, commissions can seem like an entirely different world.
Geoff Backman is the manager of business development and markets with the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions (AWBC). He studied at the University of Saskatchewan, and recently had the opportunity to give a presentation there to the next generation of ag economists about the role of commissions in agriculture.
Backman says that commissions are focused on the needs of farmers. “The Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions are producer directed, producer funded, and operate in the interests of producers. Our mandate is to increase the profitability of Alberta’s wheat and barley farmers,” he says. (Story continues below)
Backman has been in this role with the AWBC for a little over a year. In that short period of time there have been some vey big issues to deal with, such as logistics and transportation and major trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
“We were very active with the other commissions, as well as our national organizations, in pushing the government to add amendments to bill C-49. Hopefully that will alleviate some of the issues that we saw last year,” he says.
Each fall, after the crop has been harvested in Western Canada there is an active selling and promotion initiative called the New Crop Mission. “The New Crop Mission is our international marketing event, led by Cereals Canada in conjunction with the Canadian International Grains Institute and with the Canadian Grain Commission, ” he says. Through this mission, the Prairie wheat commissions send directors to over 20 different countries on five different continents to promote the new Canadian harvest to export markets, and answer questions about what Canada has to offer each year.