Alberta establishes grain commissions

Alberta farmers have two new grain commissions beginning Aug. 1.

The Alberta Wheat Commission will replace the Alberta Winter Wheat Producers Commission and Alberta Soft Wheat Producers Commission. The new all-wheat commission will assess a refundable 70-cent per tonne checkoff on wheat sold in Alberta. The checkoff is expected to raise $3.5 million annually for wheat research, market development and other wheat related activities.

The Alberta Oat Growers Commission 50 cents per tonne checkoff is expected to raise $140,00 per year to be used for oats research, market development and advocacy.

Kent Erickson, co-chair of the Alberta Wheat Commission Steering Committee said with the ending of the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly on wheat and barley sales, Alberta producers need an organization that will look after their interests and ensure competitiveness in the provincial wheat industry.

“There are so many new challenges and opportunities with the wheat board being gone, with regard to research and funding, and how it’s going to work.

“I think grassroots organizations are going to be key to bring ideas to the bigger stage,” he said.

Erickson said the two old wheat commissions represented about five percent of the wheat grown in the province. The new commission will represent all classes of wheat grown in the province.

Gordon Pope, director of the Alberta Oat Growers Commission Steering Commission said their refundable checkoff will focus on research and development, especially searching for new varieties.

“Some of the millers are not totally happy with the results of some of the current oat varieties.”

Both checkoffs are fully refundable. In the past, the old wheat commissions collected about 70 percent of the possible check-off money and expect few people to ask for their money back.

Pope said in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, only about four percent of producers ask for their oat checkoff contribution back.

“The producers have been totally behind us as far as getting the commission going. I don’t anticipate any problem,” said Pope.

There are 14 agricultural commissions in Alberta.

The Agricultural Products Marketing Council will appoint interim boards until producer elections take place next spring.

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