National barley council to give unified voice to producers, industry

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If you’re worried that another new farm organization means another checkoff, relax.

“We were very adamant from the very beginning the Barley Council of Canada will not be a checkoff organization,” chair Brian Otto told the Western Barley Growers Association annual convention in Calgary Feb. 15.

Otto said the group will need to be supported by its membership, which is still working on financial models to fund the commission.

A working group to establish the council was formed in 2011. Otto said before that, various parts of the industry were not working with each other.

“We brought the whole value chain together,” he said. “It’s been a remarkable working group.”

The council brings together representatives from across Canada and that value chain, with the board set to have seven producers and seven industry people at the table.

In January a strategic plan was finalized, the product of a survey conducted last summer.

“It helped us target the areas we should concentrate on,” Otto said. He said as industry changes, the strategic plan will grow.

The focus areas are supporting research and innovation, promoting crop production and best practices, supporting market development, improving market access and improving industry understanding.

Two membership categories

Currently there are two types of memberships — an associate membership, which allows participating but no voting power, and full membership, which comes with full voting privileges.

“By having everybody at the table, we can target what we think needs to be done,” Otto said. The BCC can provide a unified voice and national applicant to attract research funding, and can think about what different parts of the industry need.

The BCC can educate growers on customer requirements for malt, feed and the new uses of ethanol and as a health food, Otto said.

The BCC can help get various levels of governments to understand the barley industry, as well as educating the “non-farming public” about barley in general.

The next steps in the formation of the BCC are to finalize the bylaws, incorporate and determine the funding model.

Otto said incorporation is expected early this year.

The BCC’s objective is to collaborate with other organizations and co-ordinate their efforts.

“We have to emphasize we do not want to be duplicating what somebody else is doing,” he said.

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