The Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions are launching a consultation on amalgamating to form a single commission.

The Commissions will be soliciting farmers’ opinions beginning in July with an online survey, followed by virtual town hall events after harvest in October, and further dialogue and sessions during regional meetings in November.

The commissions have been operating with one management team serving two boards and separate financial structures since 2018.

The consultations with wheat and barley farmers stems from resolutions passed at the 2019 annual general meetings for both commissions. The resolutions challenged the commissions to complete a comprehensive review on the potential to formally merge.

“What started as a pilot project in 2018 to merge the management and staff of Alberta Barley and AWC has resulted in meaningful efficiencies and cost savings for both organizations,” says Tara Sawyer, Alberta Barley chair. “Through collaboration, the commissions have leveraged synergies, removed duplication and, in-turn, expanded key priority areas such as research and agronomic extension. The future of the organizations is at a crossroads so farmer participation is key during this pivotal time.”

To conduct the review of potentially merging, the commissions formed an amalgamation sub-committee comprised of current and past directors, regional representatives, and delegates from both commissions.

As a key objective for the amalgamation sub-committee, a draft model of a new governance structure has been developed for farmers’ consideration during the consultation period. The proposed model consists of one board of 12 farmers, representing wheat and barley farmers from six regions in Alberta. The delegate body would consist of four positions from each region, for a total of 24 farmers.

Research, market development, agronomy and extension, policy advocacy, and farm business management would remain top priorities for the proposed single organization, and funding would be merit-based, says the commissions.

“Currently the commissions operate with separate governance structures, yet share a management team that reports to both boards,” says Todd Hames, Alberta Wheat chair. “It’s up to Alberta wheat and barley farmers to determine whether this is sustainable or if merging is the path forward. We encourage wheat and barley growers to learn more and get involved in the consultation process.”

More information can be found at wheatbarleyconsultation.com.

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