AWC now refunds checkoffs quicker

Alberta farmers who receive check-off refunds for their wheat will now be reimbursed about a month earlier than they previously were, thanks to new regulatory changes.

The Alberta Wheat Commission made the changes in late April. It’s the first time the organization has updated its regulations since forming in 2012.

Farmers had previously waited longer for refunds, but the commission is now requiring that dealers submit service charges within 30 days rather than 55 days. As a result, producers will be reimbursed earlier.

“Some of the bigger players and some smaller players saw no problem to reduce that down to 30 days,” said Brian Kennedy, the wheat commission’s grower relations and extension co-ordinator.

“If a grower is requesting a refund, then getting it out to them a month earlier is a good service.”

As well, farmers who sell their grain outside Alberta will now be able to voluntarily pay their checkoff to the commission. All they have to do is prove the wheat was grown in Alberta, he added.

Kennedy said there likely aren’t many producers who sell outside the province, but the commission wanted to make the option available.

“It was in response to a couple of growers who truck their wheat to B.C.,” he said.

“A service charge isn’t collected and they strongly believe in the commission. They support the development of research.”

Other changes address how meetings are conducted.

For instance, if farmers want to hold a special meeting with commission staff and board members, 40 of them will now be required to provide a written request. Only 25 people were previously required.

Kennedy said there have never been requests for a special meeting, adding the commission already holds regional meetings across the province and producers are always welcome to phone it with their concerns.

“Moving it from 25 to 40 still allows growers to have their voices heard if there was an urgent issue, without having to hold 10 different meetings,” he said.

As for the wheat commission’s annual general meeting, the organization is now requiring that at least 40 members be in attendance to reach quorum. Only 25 members were previously required.

“We would like to attract as many growers as possible to the AGM. If we’re only getting 25, then we’re not doing a good job,” Kennedy said.

While he said the board isn’t required to address producers’ resolutions if quorum isn’t reached, it will address the concerns anyway.

The Alberta Barley Commission will soon be proposing changes to its regulations, he added, and producers will be able to comment on them.

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