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Oct 3

Investing in growth – Check-off dollars mean we’re stronger together

Posted on Oct 3 By: Matt Sawyer

The end of 2012 was re-invigorating for Alberta Barley’s (ABC’s) directors and delegates. A strong slate of fall regional meetings, followed by our best annual general meeting yet, left us ready for a year of new challenges and opportunities.

Chief among these is the creation of the Barley Council of Canada (BCC), where ABC leadership has encouraged equal representation from farmers and industry. Your Board is committed to a national organization for barley: one that will improve our industry’s access to funding programs, national research initiatives and market development opportunities.

At the BCC, Alberta farmers are rep- resented by Commission Vice-Chairman and Region Three Director Trevor Petersen. The Western Barley Growers Association (WBGA) is represented by Brian Otto, who is also the BCC chair- man. As well as being a past-president of the WBGA and past ABC chairman, Otto is a current ABC region one delegate.

In addition to the ABC and WBGA director positions, there are five more farmer directors from across Canada. Saskatchewan and Manitoba barley farmers will elect a director each, while the provinces of B.C., Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada will be represented by up to three directors-at-large.

On the industry side, the malt, feed, export, research and seed/life science groups will elect seven directors. Combined with the farmer directors, this makes a total of 14 seats. This group will work together to be true champions of barley. They recently formed an interim Board of Directors and will incorporate in early 2013. Stay tuned for updates during the year.

On a more personal note, I’d like to talk about the value of your check-off dollars—and how that money is key to growing our industry through initiatives like the Barley Council of Canada.

Your ABC directors work to invest your money wisely. Our research programs have a real impact on varietal development, which benefits us all at the farm level. Our market development programs mean that we can develop new markets for barley—and work to increase our crop’s value so that barley is truly competitive.

I consider these initiatives—and those of other provincial crop commissions—an important investment in my farm’s future.

Recently, I received a phone call from a farmer who insisted that our refund processes are too complicated and the work we do doesn’t have value. I disagree. First, our refund processes are uncomplicated – simply phone the office and we will send you a refund request form and review the process with you. Second, and more personally, I think it’s shortsighted for those who benefit from research and market development funding to request their money back from the Commission.

The benefits of our varietal research and market development programs have a real impact on farmers’ bottom lines every day. If you don’t support these programs, I encourage you to phone me—or your regional director—to review the work we do on behalf of all Alberta farmers. We really are building a better future.

I also encourage anyone who wants a voice at the table to stand up and get involved. We are a grassroots organization and your involvement dictates the work we do. If we don’t shape our industry and future—someone else will.

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