The integration between Alberta Wheat and Alberta Barley has been extremely successful, says Tom Steve, executive director with the now one-year-old Alberta Wheat and Barley Commission.
“We’ve realized cost savings of about $350,000 a year,” Steve says. “A lot is related to salaries for sure, but we have a stronger management team now that’s focussed on two commissions, and we’re very excited about the future.”
Though there has been integration between the two commissions’ management, the groups still maintain separate boards. The new commission hasn’t amalgamated both of the wheat and barley’s executive boards’ into one largely based on producers’ wishes, and due to current laws in place by the Alberta government that restricts the commission to make such a change without producer input and maybe require a plebiscite vote.
“At the Prairie Cereals Summit (held in December 2018), a motion was put forward by the members to amalgamate the two boards and it was defeated,” he says. More recently, at the Alberta Wheat Commission annual meeting held during FarmTech, the motion was endorsed, as well. “We’re getting signals from our members that I think that we need to be carful about approaching the amalgamation of the governance structure,” Steve says.
Looking forward, Steve says that the commission remains committed to research funding. He says all of the provincial wheat commissions are major funders for variety development and will taking over most of that development, previously the domaine of the Western Grains Research Foundation. The core breeding agreements, which expire in 2020, will be taken over by the provincial wheat commissions, and will see an increased investment of about $2 million a year.
Listen below to the full interview with RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney and executive director of the AWBC, Tom Steve.