Alberta wheat growers take charge by establishing new producer-led commission.

CALGARY, July 30, 2012 – Alberta’s wheat growers have committed to taking a leadership role in advancing the province’s wheat industry with the establishment of a new wheat commission. The Alberta Wheat Commission, formed through regulations approved under the Marketing of Agricultural Products Act, will represent the interests of and provide a voice for the more than 11,000 wheat producers of all seven classes of wheat grown in Alberta.

This is the first all-wheat commission in Canada and with the recent changes to the Canadian Wheat Board it couldn’t come at a better time. “The dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly has left a lot of gaps that industry is scrambling to fill. We need this new commission now more than ever before, so that Alberta wheat can stay competitive in the world market,” offers Kent Erickson, co-chair of the Alberta Wheat Commission Steering Committee, the group that has been working on this project since 2008.

“This didn’t happen overnight,” adds Erickson. “And there are many people who have contributed a great deal of time and effort to see this come to life. We are grateful to the Alberta Winter Wheat and Soft Wheat Producers Commissions for leading this project, and we are also appreciative of Minister Verlyn Olson’s and his department’s efforts and support in helping making this happen.

Ensuring the wheat industry remains competitive, profitable and innovative will require resources. The commission’s revenue will be generated by a mandatory/refundable service charge (check-off) of $0.70/tonne on commercial wheat sales in Alberta. The estimated $3.5 million annual revenue raised through the service charge will fund innovative research, market development activities, policy and advocacy initiatives, as well as educational opportunities that will help develop future farm leaders.

With operations officially starting August 1, 2012, an interim Board of Directors will oversee governance of the new organization until director elections can be held this fall in each of the commission’s five regions.

Across Alberta, wheat producers are anticipating great things from the new commission. “The wheat industry has many challenges and this commission is long overdue,” says Jody Klassen, a wheat producer who farms 5,400 acres of land near Mayerthorpe and who is also the current chairman of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission. “The benefits of this new commission will be substantial and the organization will be powerful because it is a producer-run commission with the ability to see industry issues from a farmer’s perspective.”