Uni­fy­ing the na­tional voice of ce­re­als

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - AGRICULTUR­E - By Cam Dahl, Pres­i­dent of Ce­re­als Canada; Dean Dias, CEO of Cigi

The Cana­dian In­ter­na­tional Grains In­sti­tute (Cigi) and Ce­re­als Canada are mov­ing for­ward to­wards an amal­ga­mated or­ga­ni­za­tion. This is a pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment.

If one were to start with a blank page in de­sign­ing how the ce­real grains sec­tor were to be rep­re­sented, we would not have started with two sep­a­rate or­ga­ni­za­tions.

But that is not how the sec­tor has de­vel­oped. Mov­ing op­er­a­tions into a sin­gle or­ga­ni­za­tion un­der the di­rec­tion of a sin­gle Board of Direc­tors is part of the on­go­ing evo­lu­tion of the in­dus­try.

For the last 40 plus years, Cigi has built a rep­u­ta­tion in­ter­na­tion­ally for tech­ni­cal and func­tional qual­ity anal­y­sis and sup­port. Cigi has ef­fec­tively helped to de­velop mar­kets for Cana­dian wheat through train­ing and in­for­ma­tion ses­sions with cus­tomers, held both in Canada and in-mar­ket. In ad­di­tion to these roles, the in­ter­na­tional brand and re­la­tion­ships that Cigi has es­tab­lished will all con­tinue un­der the amal­ga­mated or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Ce­re­als Canada grew out of the change in mar­ket­ing for Cana­dian wheat and bar­ley. The or­ga­ni­za­tion is de­signed to be the na­tional um­brella for the ce­real grain value chain, ad­dress­ing pol­icy is­sues both in Canada and in­ter­na­tion­ally, tack­ling an in­creas­ing num­ber of mar­ket ac­cess is­sues and pro­vid­ing a bridge be­tween cus­tomers of Cana­dian ce­real grains and Cana­dian farm­ers, ex­porters and re­search com­mu­nity. These func­tions are com­ple­men­tary to the work that Cigi has been car­ry­ing out.

Col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Ce­re­als Canada and Cigi started long be­fore dis­cus­sions be­gan on uni­fy­ing the two or­ga­ni­za­tions. The co­he­sive Cana­dian voice pro­vided through the an­nual New Crop Mis­sions is one ex­am­ple of the ben­e­fits of col­lab­o­ra­tion. Work­ing to­gether has also ben­e­fited the in­dus­try as a whole, which is one of the key ad­van­tages of amal­ga­ma­tion. The co­or­di­nated ap­proach to out­reach from Canada that has re­sulted from our in­for­mal col­lab­o­ra­tion will be ce­mented in place un­der a sin­gle roof.

Through­out the dis­cus­sions on amal­ga­ma­tion, which have taken place over the past three years, the Direc­tors of the two or­ga­ni­za­tions have been guided by a key ques­tion “what is in the best in­ter­est of the Cana­dian in­dus­try go­ing for­ward.”

This has not been about pro­tect­ing the turf of ei­ther of the two or­ga­ni­za­tions but look­ing for a re­newed gov­er­nance model that will more ef­fi­ciently and ef­fec­tively de­liver the ser­vices the in­dus­try needs around mar­ket de­vel­op­ment, pol­icy, mar­ket ac­cess, re­search and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. A co­or­di­nated value chain ap­proach is be­com­ing more and more im­por­tant as the world en­ters into a new age of pro­tec­tion­ism and trade bar­ri­ers.

Cana­dian farm­ers, ex­porters and pro­ces­sors also face grow­ing com­pe­ti­tion from emerg­ing ex­porters, like the ris­ing com­pe­ti­tion from Black Sea coun­tries.

While fi­nances have not been the pri­mary driver of change, the amal­ga­ma­tion also will see cost sav­ings. For ex­am­ple, all of the Mem­bers of Cigi are also Mem­bers of Ce­re­als Canada and mov­ing to a sin­gle Board of Direc­tors will re­duce travel and meet­ing costs.

Hav­ing lead­er­ship, ad­min­is­tra­tion and over­head un­der one or­ga­ni­za­tion will also re­sult in cost sav­ings. Early on in the process, the mem­ber­ship of Cigi and Ce­re­als Canada agreed to a set of prin­ci­ples that would guide the de­vel­op­ment of the new gov­er­nance model. These are: 1. The amal­ga­mated or­ga­ni­za­tion will be na­tional in scope; 2. The full value chain will be rep­re­sented within the or­ga­ni­za­tion; 3. Rep­re­sen­ta­tion at the Board ta­ble will have a link­age to financial con­tri­bu­tion to the or­ga­ni­za­tion; 4. All Mem­bers, re­gard­less of rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the Board of Direc­tors, will have the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the work of the or­ga­ni­za­tion through stand­ing com­mit­tees and ad hoc work­ing groups; and 5. The or­ga­ni­za­tion will strive for con­sen­sus de­ci­sion mak­ing at both the Board and Mem­ber level. This past June the Boards of both Cigi and Ce­re­als Canada signed a for­mal let­ter of in­tent that charged us with the task of de­vel­op­ing an amal­ga­ma­tion agree­ment, in­clud­ing by­laws, based on these key prin­ci­ples. This goal has been ac­com­plished. Un­der the di­rec­tion of both Boards a gov­er­nance model and by­laws have been de­vel­oped and are be­ing taken to Mem­bers for re­view. Mem­bers are sched­uled to vote on this pack­age this spring with June as our tar­get for in­te­gra­tion. This is an ex­cit­ing time for Cana­dian agri­cul­ture. We are see­ing new chal­lenges, like the rapid growth of com­peti­tors around the Black Sea and the in­crease of non-tar­iff trade bar­ri­ers. We are see­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties with millers in mar­kets like Nige­ria and Bangladesh adding Cana­dian wheat to their blends to cre­ate cost ef­fec­tive prod­ucts. New plant breed­ing tech­nolo­gies will al­low us to re­spond more rapidly to the chang­ing needs of our cus­tomers both in Canada and off­shore. We are see­ing more de­mands for demon­stra­tion of the sus­tain­abil­ity of our pro­duc­tion prac­tices; a task at which Cana­dian farm­ers can ex­cel. World mar­kets are chang­ing, and the value chain or­ga­ni­za­tions de­signed to rep­re­sent the in­dus­try must con­tin­u­ally evolve to adapt to these changes. We are ex­cited by the op­por­tu­nity that this evo­lu­tion presents and know that a new and more ef­fec­tive or­ga­ni­za­tion is emerg­ing, one that is built on the foun­da­tion of suc­cess es­tab­lished by both Cigi and Ce­re­als Canada.

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