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Wheat and barley groups merge management

The two organizations will have their own boards but are slimming down their administration costs

The trial went well, so the boards of Alberta Barley and the Alberta Wheat Commission have decided to permanently merge the management ranks of the organizations.

Tom Steve.
photo: File

“The ultimate goal of this exercise is to provide more value to you as producers,” Tom Steve told attendees at Alberta Wheat’s AGM at FarmTech.

“We will continue to have two separate governance structures but we will have one management team serving both boards.”

Steve, general manager of Alberta Wheat since 2014, supervised the four-month trial of the merged management structure and will now permanently oversee both organizations. The two groups have shared an office and some staff since 2013.

“Right now it’s all about saving dollars and being efficient with the dollars that we have both on the barley and the wheat side,” said Alberta Barley chair Jason Lenz. “Our financial department has shared staff for five years now. On communications, there’s a lot of similar type of work on both sides. Unless it’s a very crop-specific issue, our policy teams have been working very closely together in the past so it makes sense to have one policy manager rather than two.”

There’s no estimate yet on how much money will be saved with the shared management structure.

“I can’t give you a real accurate number right now but it would be closer to the hundreds of thousands side,” Lenz said.

Nor have any decisions been made on what to do with the savings, but there’s no plan to reduce checkoff amounts.

“We’re looking at increasing our research budget,” said Lenz. “We’re continually being asked to do more for research.”

There are also holes to fill in the research budget, he added, pointing to the Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund (ACIDF), which has not received a new round of funding and is slated to close on March 31.

“The loss of ACIDF is going to affect all the (crop) commissions. It really contributed to our research projects.”

At AGM, Alberta Wheat also said farewell to founding directors Kevin Auch and Greg Porozni, who had reached their term limits, as well as Gerry Good, who has served on the board since 2015.

Kevin Bender replaces Auch as chair while Gary Stanford takes on the role of vice-chair. The three new directors are Hannah Konschuh and Justin Bell (both from Region 2) and Todd Hames (Region 4). The organization also has four new regional reps: Jeffrey Pasemko and Bernie Klammer (Region 4) along with Olivia Sederberg and Devin Hartzler (Region 2). The organization is also urging producers in Region 3 to consider standing for election in November.

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