Amalgamation process in high gear

Tom Steve, General Manager | Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions

Substantial progress has been made on the amalgamation of the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley since we last reported to you in the January edition of the Grain Exchange.

We held our first joint board meeting of the two commissions on January 23, 2023, in Edmonton, Alberta, just prior to the CrossRoads Conference. During that meeting we selected nominees for the interim board of 12 directors who will govern the new commission when it is established on the expected date of August 1, 2023. The interim board will consist of six directors from each commission.

Alberta Barley

Tara Sawyer, Chair
Roy Newman, Vice-Chair
Sean Stanford
Connie Matson
Clint Jacula
Scott Jespersen

Alberta Wheat Commission

Greg Sears, Chair
Jason Lenz, Vice-Chair
Shawn Jacula, Second Vice-Chair
Dave Bishop
Devin Hartzler
Dean Hubbard

The interim board must be approved by the board of the Alberta Agricultural Products Marketing Council (Marketing Council), but in the meantime will serve as the decision-making body for the amalgamation process. Until we are formally amalgamated the separate boards of AWC and Alberta Barley will remain in office.

At the January board meeting, directors also approved a new name for the combined commission. This allows us to move forward with establishing a new Plan Regulation and registration of a not-for-profit corporation with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The name and branding is expected to be unveiled in late spring or early summer.

In February 2023, the two commissions wrote to Marketing Council advising them of the results of the October 2022 plebiscites and formally requesting that their Plan Regulations be terminated, subject to the creation of a new regulation for the combined commission. We also advised them of our recommended governance structure of a 12-member board elected from six regions and 24 delegates with four per region.

Other steps in the process include the creation of a Commission Regulation which is a companion to the Plan Regulation and includes details such as the check-off rate. As mentioned earlier, we will be applying to CRA for the creation of a new not-for-profit entity and establishing its bylaws.

On March 15, 2023, we held a virtual townhall meeting to consult with wheat and barley producers on the amalgamation process, including the wording of the draft Plan Regulation.

With a provincial election in the offing in May 2023, we are attempting to get as much work as possible completed prior to the start of the campaign and have been assured that our colleagues in government will still be able to work with us during the writ period.

If all goes according to plan, we will receive approval from the minister of Agriculture and Irrigation for repeal of the existing regulations and establishment of the new regulations in June.

Grain dealers will be advised in May 2023, that they will be remitting check-off to a new legal entity effective August 1, 2023. We will continue to have separate check-offs for wheat and barley and check-off rates will remain unchanged at $1.09 per tonne for wheat and $1.20 per tonne for barley.

The new commission regulations would come into force and the interim board appointed by Marketing Council would take office on August 1, 2023.

On a personal note, it seems that mergers and acquisitions have followed me for a good part of my career. In 2001, I was on the task force for the merger of United Grain Growers and Agricore Cooperative to form Agricore United. Then in 2007, I was involved in the combination of Agricore United and Saskatchewan Wheat Pool to form Viterra. On that project I served on both the branding and amalgamation task teams.

Of all of them, I would say this merger is the most satisfying because it is not a commercial transaction, but rather a coming together of two willing farmer-directed organizations driving change that will provide better service to farmers.

We look forward to reaching the finish line!