Five Manitoba commodity groups still seeking farmer input on proposed merger

A discussion paper is expected to be ready for the CropConnect conference in February

Farmer input on the proposed merger of five of Manitoba’s checkoff-­funded crop commodity groups is still being sought and encouraged.

A dedicated email — [email protected] — has been set up for that purpose.

In the spring the Manitoba Corn Growers Association (MCGA), Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers Association (MPSG), Manitoba Flax Growers Association (MFGA), National Sunflower Association of Canada (NSAC) and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association (MWBGA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work towards merging. The goal is giving farmers a bigger bang for their checkoff bucks.

All but the flax growers already share an office in Carman.

Rob Hannam of Synthesis Agri-Food Network has been hired to help co-ordinate the effort.

After merger steering committee meetings Aug. 1 and Aug. 22 all agreed it’s important to hear from as many farmers as possible, Hannam said in a news release Aug. 30.

Pam de Rocquigny.
photo: Allan Dawson

“There was that realization that this is going to take time,” Pam de Rocquigny, general manager of the corn and wheat and barley associations said in an interview. “It’s a process and we definitely want member input and consultation and that’s why there’s a big focus on members’ ability to provide feedback. There is no timeline per se in terms of a decision (on merging) because we don’t know what that end position is at this point.”

Although farmers are busy harvesting now, they can still provide input this winter, she added.

The groups hope Hannam completes a report by December, said de Rocquigny. She also expects farmers will have a chance to comment on it, perhaps during CropConnect in February — an annual conference organized by the five groups, plus the Manitoba Canola Growers and Manitoba Seed Growers associations. (The canola and winter cereals associations were part of earlier merger discussions, but for now want to continue on their own.)

“It’s working towards a package of what things could potentially look like, and within that package there could be potentially one, two, three options…” de Rocquigny said. “Part of this whole thing is figuring out what is the question.

“There are more questions being raised as we continue to work through it.”

However, the groups agree their focus is, and remains, research, agronomy and market development, she added.

“We don’t see any change in that going forward.”

In addition to farmers emailing their views on merging, they can contact the associations’ directors and staff, de Rocquigny said.

The merger talks, which had their genesis with discussions on increased collaboration in the spring of 2014, is supported by Manitoba Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler and the Keystone Agricultural Producers.

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

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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