Alberta farm group adds corporate members to roster

Wild Rose Agricultural Producers | Members vote to open up membership to attract more people and increase financial stability

EDMONTON — Wild Rose Agricultural Producers has decided to allow agriculture corporations and commodity groups to become members.

The group said during its recent annual meeting that the change is the first step to becoming a more inclusive farm organization.

Members voted to open up membership from individual farmers to corporations and commissions in an attempt to attract more members and increase financial stability.

“It’s a starting point,” said outgoing Wild Rose president Humphrey Banack.

Alberta’s general farm organization is struggling to attract members and with it a solid financial base.

By becoming more inclusive, Wild Rose also hopes the provincial government will decide to allow it to use a checkoff or other funding mechanism to improve its financial base. The group has asked several previous agriculture ministers for such a change, but with little success.

Evan Berger, Alberta’s newest agriculture minister, didn’t dismiss the request when he spoke to the group.

“That’s the first ask I heard about that. I’ll keep it in consideration,” Berger said.

New Wild Rose president Lynn Jacobson said relations with the government improved with Jack Hayden, the previous agriculture minister, and he hopes Berger will maintain the same openness.

“I think they saw we made sensible policies,” said Jacobson.

Banack said the past year of working with the government has been encouraging for the organization and he believes Wild Rose has turned a corner in its relationship with the province.

“Our goal of the organization is to restructure ourselves and see how we can put together an organization that is presentable to government. A general farm organization is paramount to agriculture in this province,” he said.

“There is a huge spot for a general farm organization in this province.”

Wild Rose also voted to replace two directors with members of commodity groups. It already has 11 commodity members, but they can sit only as board members.

The group hopes to increase individual producer membership to 1,000 paid members by 2012, have 10 corporate members and increase the number of commodity group members by 10 by 2014.

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