CIGI, Cereals Canada move closer to merger

The two groups say efforts to put their operations under a single board could be completed by the end of this year

Executives at the Canadian International Grains Institute and Cereals Canada say a proposed merger of the two organizations could be a done deal before the end of the calendar year.

“I think we’re finally coming to a point where we’re quite clear on the direction forward,” said Dean Dias, interim chief executive officer at CIGI.

“It took us a while to get here … but I think all members see the benefits of a merger.”

“Our two organization work very closely together on quite a number of issues, so coming together under a single board and a single management will really help to cement that ongoing collaboration,” added Cam Dahl, executive director of Cereals Canada.

“Being able to co-ordinate our efforts and work together even more closely will make the organizations more effective.”

Informal discussions about a potential merger involving CIGI and Cereals Canada began a couple years ago.

Last July, the boards of the two organizations signed a letter of intent, committing to explore a merger in greater detail.

CIGI and Cereals Canada are involved in promoting Canadian wheat. CIGI is involved in market development, end-use quality evaluations and technical support. Cereals Canada is involved in market access issues.

The two organizations are developing bylaws for a merged organization and finalizing a proposed governance structure.

Dias and Dahl said a formal merger proposal should be completed soon. Once completed, the proposal must be endorsed by board members at both organizations.

If approved, the proposal would then be subject to membership approval.

CIGI’s membership consists of provincial wheat commissions in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, as well as grain export organizations Richardson, Viterra, Cargill and the Inland Terminals Association of Canada.

Cereals Canada membership is more diverse. It includes grain companies, life science companies, producer groups and processors.

Dias said CIGI members recognize the benefits of an amalgamated organization.

“If we can do (all of our work) under one organization, I think there’s definite value there,” said Dias.

“I don’t think there have been any questions about the benefits. It’s more about getting the governance structure correct and ensuring that everybody’s voice is heard.”

A merger could result in some cost-savings, he added, but budgetary considerations weren’t the biggest driver.

Dahl said a merged organization would allow staff at CIGI and Cereals Canada to operate more efficiently.

A more co-ordinated approach to overseas crop missions, for example, would allow a new organization to work on market access issues and market development programs at the same time, he said.

In 2017-18, annual CIGI revenues were listed at $8.7 million, including $3.2 million from Agriculture Canada.

Current fiscal year revenues are in the range of $5.8 million, said Dias, including about $1.9 million from industry groups, $1.9 million from producer levies and $2 million from Agriculture Canada.

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