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Flax, winter cereals groups moving to Carman

While not formerly part of the commodity group merger talks, it demonstrates a willingness towards additional collaboration

The Manitoba Flax Growers Association (MFGA) and Winter Cereals Manitoba Inc. (WCMI) are moving to the Carman office already occupied by a number of other commodity organizations.

The Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers (MPSGA) will administer the MFGA starting March 1, MFGA chair Eric Fridfinnson told reporters Feb. 15, following the association’s annual meeting during CropConnect in Winnipeg.

“We’re just paying the Pulse Growers on a fee-for-service basis to do the administration of the organization and I just can’t say enough how happy we are with that arrangement,” Fridfinnson said. “It has an excellent staff and we’ve already begun the transition and it’s going very well.”

MFGA shared an office and some staff with the Flax Council of Canada in Winnipeg, until the council closed its doors Jan. 31 after a drop in revenues due to decreased flax production and a drop in industry membership.

Asked if the flax council might also move to Carman, Fridfinnson replied: “That would be premature. We’re just in discussions and actually developing a proposal on what that would look like so we couldn’t comment on that.”

MPSGA assessed MFGA’s needs and felt it can handle the extra work on a cost-recovery basis without more staff, MPSG executive director Francois Labelle said in a news release.

Meanwhile, Winter Cereals Manitoba Inc. (WCMI) has contracted the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association (MWBGA) and the National Sunflower Association of Canada (NSAC), to lead its operations, research activities and communications with membership and stakeholders.

“The MWBGA’s core functions of research and market development, with support functions including administration and communications, are closely aligned with many of the key functions of WCMI,” WCMI chair Doug Martin said in a news release Feb. 22.

The management team is comprised of the NSAC’s Darcelle Graham as executive director with support from the MWBGA’s Pam de Rocquigny and Lori-Ann Kaminski for research and Tammy Cote for administration support.

The three associations recognize future demands will require Manitoba commodity organizations to collaborate to get maximum value back to farmer members, the release said.

“There are many natural synergies that exist currently between Winter Cereals Manitoba and MWBGA,” MWBGA chair Fred Greig said.

“This is a great example of how we are working together with fellow organizations to benefit Manitoba farmers,” NSAC president Mark McDonald said.

Last December WCMI’s executive director Jake Davidson said in an email he was leaving the job, to focus on other projects.

WCMI will continue to have its own board of directors and maintain a strong relationship with the Saskatchewan Winter Cereals Development Commission, the release said.

Five commodity associations — Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers, Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers, Manitoba Corn Growers, Manitoba Flax Growers and the National Sunflower Association of Canada — are currently exploring a merger. And with the recent addition of flax, all are in the same Carman office.

Asked in an interview if WCMI is considering joining the merger talks, Martin said it’s too early to say. WCMI has been focused on establishing its current arrangement. Whether to explore merging is a decision for WCMI’s board of directors, he added.

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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