07/30/2012 04:28 EDT | Updated 09/29/2012 05:12 EDT

Alberta forms wheat and oat commissions for advocacy and research

EDMONTON - The Alberta government has created two new commissions to help fund research and marketing efforts for oat and wheat farmers.

The Alberta Wheat Commission and the Alberta Oat Growers Commission will be funded by farmers through a check-off on delivered grain — 70 cents per tonne on wheat and 50 cents a tonne on oats.

That's expected to raise $3.5 million a year for wheat and $140,000 for oats. The check-offs on both grains are refundable if producers request.

The money is to be used for advocacy on behalf of farmers as well as to fund research and marketing projects.

“Producers recognize the need to have organizations that will serve as a strong voice on their behalf and help ensure the grain industry remains competitive, profitable and on the leading edge of innovation,” Agriculture Minister Verlyn Olson said Monday.

Gordon Pope, director of the Alberta Oat Growers Commission steering committee, said the commission will be a first for Alberta.

“The Alberta Oat Growers Commission is a big step for oat producers in our province,” he said. “The new commission will work with our partners in Saskatchewan and Manitoba on initiatives that will benefit the western Canadian oat industry as a whole.”

The wheat commission will combine and replace previous separate commissions for winter wheat and soft wheat.

The new agencies begin their work Wednesday, the beginning of the new crop year and the day on which federal legislation strips the Canadian Wheat Board of its monopoly on the export of wheat from Western Canada.

There are 14 agricultural commissions in Alberta that represent commodities such as barley, canola, beef and pork.