Wheat and barley farmers voted in favour of a merger between the two crop organizations
By Diego Flammini
Alberta farmers have voted in favour of a merger between the Alberta Barley Commission (ABC) and Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC).
Out of 1,569 votes (606 from barley farmers and 963 from wheat growers) cast throughout October, 89 per cent of barley farmers (539) and 88 per cent of Alberta wheat producers (847) supported amalgamation.
“A clear direction was provided by both wheat and barley farmers on the preferred path forward for the organizations,” Tara Sawyer, chair of the ABC, said in a Nov. 2 statement. “We look forward to informing our farmers on the next steps in the process at our winter meetings.”
The results will remain preliminary until Nov. 17 and can be contested during that window.
The plebiscite’s outcome means members agreed to terminate the existing plans of each individual crop organization and to establish a new plan for the amalgamated group.
This also means new regulations must be created for the changes to take effect.
These changes must receive approval from both crop commissions, the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Agricultural Products Marketing Council.
Alberta Barley and Alberta Wheat worked for five years to reach this point.
In September 2017, Tom Steve, general manager of Alberta Wheat, became interim general manager of Alberta Barley on a four-month trial period to determine if amalgamation is viable.
That decision came after board members recognized multiple areas of overlap between AWC and Alberta Barley.
In November 2018 at the AWC meeting in Strathmore, members passed a resolution calling for Alberta Barley to explore a formal merger.
In October and November 2021, 71 per cent of polled barley and wheat farmers voted in favour of the idea of amalgamation.
In December 2021 and January 2022, respectively, both crop organizations passed a motion to conduct a plebiscite about a merger.
More information about the amalgamated organization’s next steps will be available at upcoming winter meetings.
The first meeting is scheduled to take place at The Coast Hotel in Lethbridge on Nov. 15.