New AFSC board named

Alberta’s Agriculture Financial Services Corp., the provincial body that administers crop insurance and disaster assistance funding, has a new board of directors that has already started work.

Alberta Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier announced the new board April 27.

Jennifer Wood, a professional agrologist and cattle rancher in the Edmonton region, was appointed chair.

Joining her are agri-food industry consultant Jerry Bouma, former Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency chief executive officer Gordon Cove, farmer and agriculture coach Peter Galloway, former deputy agriculture minister Jo-Ann Hall, cattle company president Harvey Hagman, chartered professional accountant Anna Harder and financial executive Kiren Singh.

Among their first duties will be the hiring of a new chief executive officer, Carlier said during a news conference.

Appointment of a new board was made necessary when the previous six-member board was dismissed in June 2016 after an investigation showed AFSC executives violated policies that prohibit acceptance of gifts, double-dipped on expense claims and otherwise contravened the corporation’s code of conduct.

Carlier suspended AFSC president Brad Klak, chief operating officer Merle Jacobson and vice-president of product development Wayne McDonald, while the other members, Dean Gallimore, Patrick Bieleny, Ian Reynolds, George Groeneveld and Harold Schmaltz, were dismissed for having ap-proved the executive’s expenses and having lost the confidence of the minister.

Jacobson and McDonald later retired, and Klak’s contract was not renewed.

AFSC has since been run by a five-member interim board of government officials with ATB Financial vice-president Ed Knash as interim CEO.

The provincial government then undertook an open recruitment process that required an extension in October to ensure desirable candidates had the opportunity to apply. Carlier said 42 applications were received.

“The successful candidates have a wealth of experience in agriculture, business and board governance that will serve them well as board members.”

Carlier said the internal controls on AFSC have been strengthened, the president is no longer also a board member and oversight on international travel for AFSC personnel has been strengthened.

Wood said the transition to the new board from the interim one will take place within the next few weeks, and she aims to ensure AFSC “moves forward in a proper, open and transparent manner.”

AFSC has provided more than $3 billion in loans to producers and rural businesses in the last seven years, and the demand for loans is about $500 million annually.

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