Prairie Post (West Edition)
October is voting month for Alberta barley and wheat farmers
Voting for both plebiscites, one for wheat and one for barley, will be open October 3, 2022, at noon and close on November 1, 2022, at noon. Alberta wheat and barley farmers should watch for their voting credentials to arrive in the mail and vote either online using their computer, tablets or smartphones, or via the telephone.
The commissions are encouraging barley and wheat farmers to vote on whether Alberta Barley and the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) should formally amalgamate to form a single crop commission.
“We are confident the convenient online format and monthlong voting period will provide farmers with increased access to cast their ballots during the busy harvest season,” says Alberta Barley chair Tara Sawyer. “The commissions strongly encourage barley and wheat farmers to participate in the plebiscites which will determine our future.”
If you are a regular reader of The Grain Exchange, you should be well-informed of the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions’ work on the amalgamation file. However, to keep farmers in the loop on what led the commissions to conduct month-long plebiscites and what are the benefits of developing a single crop commission.
Let’s walk through the events that preceded the plebiscites.
• Prior to 2017 – AWC and Alberta Barley operated independently from one another, but shared finance, human resources and office space.
• September 2017 – Commission boards piloted a project to explore the idea of a single management team for both commissions.
• 2018 – Upon sharing one management team, the commissions quickly saw the benefits of additional synergies including cost savings of up to $350,000 annually to further invest in an agronomy extension program, expand kids’ education efforts, and partner on enhanced communication initiatives.
• November 2018 – During the AWC Region 2 meeting, a resolution was passed by farmers requesting that the commissions complete a comprehensive review of the potential to formally merge into a single crop commission.
• January 2019 – AWC Resolution from Region 2 was brought forward during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and passed.
• November 2019 – Resolutions were passed at several Alberta Barley Region meetings requesting that the commissions investigate a formal merger.
• December 2019 – Combined resolution from the Region meetings was passed at the Alberta Barley Annual General Meeting (AGM).
• March 2020 – Formation of the amalgamation sub-committee comprised of select Alberta Barley and AWC current and past directors, regional representatives and delegates.
• Summer and Fall 2021 – Amalgamation consultations were held including a survey and a virtual town hall event at regional meetings during November providing ample opportunity for farmer input on the process.
• November 2021 – Resolutions were brought forward from Alberta Barley and Alberta Wheat Commission Region meetings to conduct a farmer plebiscite on amalgamating the two organizations. The resolutions were then passed at commission AGMs in December 2021 and January 2022.
• August 2022 – Alberta Barley and AWC formally announced that two plebiscites would be held in October.
• September 2022 –Announcement letters sent to farmers who are eligible to vote for one or both plebiscites.
• October 2022 –Voting platform open for Alberta wheat and barley farmers to vote on whether to amalgamate Alberta
Barley and AWC into a single crop commission.
“Since the two commissions have been operating with a joint management structure for five years, we are eager to hold the plebiscites in October so farmers can determine our future direction at this pivotal time,” says AWC chair, Greg Sears. “We encourage farmers to engage and vote in October, even if it’s from the combine.”
Both organizations recognize the duplication of activities and foresee further synergies by the formation of a united crop commission with the vision to increase the profitability of both barley and wheat farmers. Based on our research and consultations with our sub-committee and farmers throughout the province, our hope is to provide further cost savings and benefits to our membership to grow the return on their investment into the commissions.