Alberta commission proposes combined wheat levy

The Alberta Wheat Commission is proposing a 7.6 percent reduction in provincial wheat checkoffs effective next August.

In its most recent newsletter to provincial wheat growers, the commission outlines a plan to combine two wheat checkoffs that currently exist in Alberta and establish one refundable wheat levy in its place.

Alberta wheat growers currently pay a 70 cent per tonne levy to the Alberta Wheat Commission as well as a 48 cent per tonne levy known as the Western Canadian Deduction.

Both levies are used to support wheat research, varietal development work and marketing initiatives.

A combined levy of $1.09 per tonne would be 7.6 percent lower than what is now collected.

The WCD is a temporary levy that is due to expire next year.

“Since 2012, Alberta farmers have had two wheat deductions on their cash ticket … for a total of $1.18 per tonne,” AWC general manager Tom Steve wrote in the newsletter.

“Our proposal will result in a nine cent per tonne reduction from the two levies, while maintaining all financial obligations of the WCD.”

Provincial wheat commissions in Saskatchewan and Manitoba are also moving to a single checkoff and have made similar commitments to assume responsibility for WCD-funded programs, the newsletter said.

Steve said AWC board members and management looked at various options before finalizing the recommendation to combine the levies and reduce total grower levies by nine cents per tonne.

A $1.09 per tonne checkoff will collect $3 million per year in additional revenue, over and above what was collected through the existing AWC levy.

The additional revenue will allow the commission to maintain current funding commitments and meet future commitments to varietal development and to the Canadian International Grains Institute.

“With financial reserves already in place, we are confident that we can make up for any shortfall while maintaining AWC’s full menu of programs including our other investments in research, market development, consumer outreach, extension and policy advocacy,” Steve wrote.

“In summary, we believe we have struck an appropriate balance that will ensure the continuity of our programs and add to the long-term profitability of your farms.”

The commission will be seeking feedback on its proposal in October and November and organize a survey of provincial wheat growers to get feedback on the plan.

Contact brian.cross@producer.com

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