The government of Alberta is establishing two new commissions to help grain farmers promote and market their crops.
The Alberta Wheat Commission and the Alberta Oat Growers Commission will advocate on behalf of producers and fund research and marketing projects, the province said in a release.
“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,” said Agriculture Minister Verlyn Olson.
The creation of the new commissions coincides with the end of the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly. Starting August 1 farmers can opt to bring their grain to market themselves.
Wildrose Agricultural Producers vice president Humphrey Banack, who runs a family farm 80 kilometres southeast of Edmonton, calls the new commissions ground-breaking.
"I guess it's going to be a new era,” he said, adding that the end of the national board’s monopoly created a void.
Both commissions will be funded through service charges — 40 cents per tonne of oats and 70 cents per tonne of wheat sold in Alberta.
The commissions are required to fully refund the service charges if requested to do so by producers.
The levies are anticipated to give the wheat commission a yearly budget of $3.5 million and the oat commission roughly $140,000, the province said.
Kent Erickson, co-chair of the Alberta Wheat Commission steering committee, said the new entity will be good for the 11,000 wheat farmers in the province.
And Gordon Pope, director of the Alberta Oat Growers Commission steering committee, said that commission fills a void.
“Until now, an organization dedicated to the specific needs of Alberta’s oat growers didn’t exist,” he said.
Alberta farmers grow about one quarter of Canada’s total oat crop.
The new commissions, which begin operating on August 1, are expected to have producer-elected boards of directors by next spring.
There are already 14 agricultural commissions in Alberta representing commodities such as barley, canola, beef and pork.