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Canada’s barley sector streamlining for synergy

Barley Council, Cereals Canada, CMBTC, Brewing and Malting Research Institute formalize collaboration

Canada’s barley industry wants to become more efficient and effective through increased co-operation, says Barley Council of Canada (BCC) chair Zenneth Faye.

To that end the BCC “will undergo a strategic realignment” with Cereals Canada, the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre (CMBTC), and the Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute (BMBRI) starting Aug. 1.

“The (BCC) board felt it was time to bring in all of the barley value chain in Canada and have them sit down and tell us what’s good, bad or ugly in regards to the barley industry and how it can be made better,” Faye said.

There’s been an ongoing collaboration and now it’s time to formalize the situation, Faye said.

“Our Barley Council of Canada is a very lean operation and we want to keep it that way. We don’t want duplication anywhere.”

The BCC is also getting a new interim executive director, Erin Armstrong, who takes over from retired president and executive director, Phil de Kemp.

Armstrong, formerly Canterra Seeds’ director, of industry and regulatory affairs, has worked in Canadian agriculture for more than 30 years, including 14 years in the malting and brewing industry.

“She has a lot of background in the barley industry to help us put all the agreements we need in place for the formalities making everything come together,” Faye said.

Armstrong was seeking a position for 18 to 24 months, he added.

“The stars all lined up and we said ‘Why not?’

“She really enjoyed the barley industry so it was a good fit for her and a good fit for us.”

More industry collaboration should help get new, agronomically superior malting barley varieties commercialized, Faye said.

“That was one of the other reasons we wanted to tie everybody in with this plan… so we can have a unified approach.”

That will help gain acceptance from maltsters and brewers, both known for their reluctance to change varieties because they know how existing barleys perform.

While this formal agreement seeking greater synergy within the sector doesn’t include amalgamating with Cereals Canada, Faye doesn’t rule that out someday.

“At this point in time it’s more about how do we utilize all the resources in a more efficient manner and be able to save all of our contributors dollars in the end,” he said.

Cereals Canada is also currently working toward merging with the Canadian International Grains Institute.

Some question why barley isn’t under Cereals Canada.

“Wheat is such a dominant crop that barley would be dwarfed by it so we want to make sure barley has its autonomy and not get lost in the big scheme of things…” Faye said.

“But when it comes to market access for wheat, barley or oats on an international scale Cereals Canada has a lot of horsepower there.”

The same applies for other internationally related trade issues, including non-tariff trade barriers and maximum residue limits, Cereals Canada president Cam Dahl said in an interview July 3.

“Really the issues for wheat, if not the same, are very similar for barley so it makes sense to have one set of eyes looking at those kinds of issues… ” Dahl said.

“There are some real opportunities right now for some increased effectiveness and collaboration and I am really pleased to see we’re going to take those steps and go forward and work together and see if there are additional steps we can take going forward.

“This is a good thing. It’s not just a money question. It’s about effectiveness and efficiency.”

The BCC was formed in 2013 after the Harper Conservative government ended the Canadian Wheat Board Aug. 1, 2012. The BCC’s role is to lead Canada’s barley value chain.

It’s funded and governed equally by barley growers through checkoffs collected by provincial barley commissions and companies in the barley business.

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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