New Alberta group getting its bearings

Checkoff funds commission General manager will hire staff for research, marketing and finance

The first regional meetings for the Alberta Wheat Commission are underway in a province that annually grows 6.6 million acres of wheat.

Lynn Jacobson, one of two directors for Region 1, helped spearhead the formation of the new commission, which officially formed Aug. 1.

The commission had been explained to producers in a series of meetings last year.

Jacobson told southern Alberta wheat producers Nov. 21 that global wheat consumption is expected to rise to an estimated 880 million tonnes by 2050, up from 666 million tonnes now, which will potentially create greater demand for prairie wheat.

Alberta accounts for 30 percent of wheat acreage in Western Canada and grows all nine registered wheat varieties. Wheat is the largest crop by area and by annual production in the province.

Jacobson said the organization will be funded by a 70 cents per tonne checkoff.

It will apply to all wheat, including feed wheat, hard wheat and durum, which previously weren’t subject to the checkoff.

The new commission received $70,000 in startup loans from the Alberta Barley Commission and the Alberta Canola Producers Commission, which it plans to repay within two years.

Assets from the now-dissolved soft wheat growers and winter wheat growers commissions, which totalled $240,000, were also rolled into the new entity.

Jacobson outlined a balanced budget of $3.84 million for the 2012-13 crop year.

The organization has hired Rick Istead as general manager. He will now hire five managers for research, marketing, communications, finance and administration.

The commission has divided the province into five regions. Each will have two directors and three regional representatives.

Once all are in place, they will serve on one or several of five committees: hard red and hard white spring, durum, prairie red and white spring, extra strong and general purpose and winter wheat.

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