National group | Organizers hope the council can be operational by later this year
A Canada-wide commodities council dealing with five of the most widely grown cereal crops in the country could be operational by the end of the year.
The Cereals Council of Canada (CCC) plans to include representatives from major stakeholder groups including grain handlers, life science companies, grain processors and primary producers.
Jean-Marc Ruest, vice-president of corporate affairs for Richardson International, said council supporters saw a need for a new organization to promote interests of all participants in the sector.
“The point we’re at now is that we’ve developed a sufficient critical mass supporting the concept of a cereals council and we’ve tasked a sub-committee representing each of the stakeholder groups … to get together and put a little bit more flesh on the bone so that we can actually have an organization that’s incorporated, that’s funded, that has staff and is ready to go…,” said Ruest, who is listed as a principal participant in the process.
“We’ve charged ourselves with having that structure up and going by August (2013).”
Organizations participating in the initiative are listed on the website of the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada.
Council founders have retained Guelph, Ont., consultant Judy Shaw to act as interim chair and facilitator in the process.
“This is truly a collaboration of equal partners and it has to be that way because if it gets off balance in any way, it will be difficult to be successful,” she said.
Ruest and Shaw said proponents of the new council are promoting an open and transparent process.
Once the council is incorporated, it is expected that member organizations will be required to pay a membership fee.
Ruest said the new organization will likely begin with a budget of about half a million dollars.
“From a funding perspective, I think that funding has to come from all stakeholders in the process and has to be reflective of their participation.”
Shaw said the council hopes to operational by Dec. 31 and discussions have already taken place around some of the key issues facing the cereals industry.
“We’re really focusing on some of the most important things … and one of those things is variety registration,” Shaw said. “It’s essential to get that straightened out so that we can attract those investment dollars to Canada.”
Although the exact role of the new organization has yet to be determined, Ruest mentioned market development, market access and cereal research and innovation as key areas.
He also said the council hopes to work with provincial wheat and barley commissions in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.