Man. farm groups merger still in the works

The five agricultural groups met recently but say there are questions to answer and consultations to be done


It’s not a done deal, but a merger of Manitoba commodity groups is closer to reality.


Leaders of five groups, the Corn Growers, Manitoba Pulse & Soybean, Manitoba Flax Growers, National Sunflower Association of Canada and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers, met twice in August to discuss the details, opportunities and obstacles around forming a joint organization.


Crop research, agronomy and market development will continue to be the main focus of a combined group, the leaders of the proposed merger said in a news release.


“The directors involved in this process still have a lot of questions and there is still a lot of work to do, but progress on developing a comprehensive member-consultation plan has been made,” said Myron Krahn, Manitoba Corn Growers president.


The idea of commodity group merger has been discussed in Manitoba for years, but the formal process began this winter.


Joining forces makes sense because some of the groups represent commodities with limited acreage and small production in Manitoba. In some cases, the levy on that production may not generate sufficient dollars to fund a standalone organization. 


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For instance, less than 50,000 acres of flax was seeded in Manitoba in 2017.


Sunflower acres in recent years have been below 100,000.


Wheat, corn and soybean growers went through a similar process in Ontario. In 2010, they united to form the Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO).


“It’s efficiency. It’s a stronger voice. It puts depth in our offices. It gives us greater reach,” said Henry Van Ankum, former GFO chair, earlier this year.


“(But) the key to have it work is to have the grassroots asking for it.”


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The working group, representing the five commodity organizations, continues to sort through details of the plan, such as communications with farmers and government.


“It is quite important that we hear from as many farmers as possible,” said Rob Hannam of Synthesis Agri-Food Network, who has helped lead the merger talks.


To get feedback from farmers on the proposed merger, the working group has set up an email address.


Manitoba farmers who grow barley, corn, edible beans, flax, pulses, soybeans, sunflower or spring wheat can send an email to rob@mbcrops.ca.


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