Letters — for 2012-06-14 00:00:00

Ritz explains checkoff details

Regarding the May 31 story “KAP questions checkoff administrator — last month, as part of our government’s commitment to deliver marketing freedom to western wheat and barley growers, I announced proposed regulations enabling a new, voluntary producer checkoff that will be overseen by the Alberta Barley Commission, in support of research, market development and technical assistance for the western Canadian grain industry.

Regarding the question of where the funds will be directed, I would like to clarify that the Alberta Barley Commission will transfer the checkoff dollars, in the customary funding amounts, to the three recipient organizations of record: the Western Grains Research Foundation, the Canadian International Grains Institute and the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre.

This was a recommendation of the industry working group on marketing freedom and a commitment by our government in providing western Canadian grain farmers with marketing choice. The commission will sign a formal agreement with my department, setting out the dollars per tonne that will be directed to the three groups.

As to why the Alberta Barley Commission was selected to administer the checkoff, we consulted with the grain industry and selected the commission given its long experience in administering the provincial checkoff. The intent is for the commission to work on a break-even basis, with any unused administration funds going back into vital research for farmers.

Given that the regulations have been submitted for the 30-day Canada Gazette, industry will be able to provide further comments until June 25.

Having said that, I’m confident the regulations we’ve developed will provide new opportunities for the western grain industry to grow, help increase profitability at the farm gate, and drive renewed jobs and growth across Canada.

Gerry Ritz

Agriculture minister

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