Winter Cereals Manitoba now in on amalgamation plan

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A possible union between four Manitoba commodity grower groups has a new fifth player on deck.

Winter Cereals Manitoba Inc. (WCMI) announced Thursday its chair, Doug Martin, and director Allan Olinyk will join a steering committee made up of directors and staff from the Manitoba Corn Growers Association (MCGA), Manitoba Flax Growers Association (MFGA), National Sunflower Association of Canada (NSAC) and Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association (MWBGA).

The four-group steering committee has been gathering and collating feedback on the proposal for a combined organization, coming out of the groups’ regional meetings in January and annual general meetings in February.

An “amended” proposal is due to be released next month, the five groups said Thursday.

Another group, Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers, had been in on an initial memorandum of understanding in May last year to consider amalgamation. As of August this year, though, only MCGA, MWBGA, MFGA and NSAC remained.

The four groups and MPSG had been considering two options — amalgamation and a model that “did not include legal amalgamation.” From those discussions, the four groups, without MPSG, agreed in August to “move forward together” on amalgamation by putting a potential merger to a vote.

WCMI’s board felt “the time was right to join the discussion… to explore a potential amalgamation with the understanding that membership will make the decision,” Martin, who farms at East Selkirk, Man., said in Thursday’s release.

WCMI is no stranger to a shared-services approach. In February it contracted NSAC and MWBGA to manage its day-to-day operations, research work and communications with members and stakeholders and is now based out of a shared office in Carman.

The new proposal due out in December is expected to include “revised board and governance structures, an organizational chart, budget allocations, timelines, and the legal process to legally amalgamate,” the five groups said.

The steering committee is also “determining the next steps to ensure an adequate consultation period for members to review the proposal.”

Their target timeline currently calls for the members of each participating organization to vote on an amalgamation proposal resolution at their annual general meetings in February next year.

If approved, the target date for a new joint organization to be in place would be Aug. 1, 2019.

While the groups’ leaderships have touted the merits of a merger as a more efficient use of grower levies and checkoffs, the plan drew some criticism from members of participating groups at their annual meetings earlier this year.

Some farmers voiced fears that a merged body might undermine farmer control and allow smaller crops to fall through the cracks. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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