Grains institute appoints more farmers to its board

Governance With farmers paying part of the funding, 
the institute says it’s important to get them more involved

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Three Prairie farmers have been appointed to the Canadian International Grains Institute’s six-member board, just one of many changes to the institute in the wake of the Canadian Wheat Board end of its sales monopoly Aug. 1.

Cigi, which teaches customers how to use Canadian crops, was founded in 1972 by the wheat board and federal government. Until April, Cigi relied on the wheat board for much of its funding. That money will now come through a refundable farmer checkoff on the sale of wheat (15 cents a tonne) and barley (three cents a tonne).

The federal government will also continue to fund Cigi.

Under the old structure Cigi had six directors — two from the wheat board, one from the Canadian Grain Commission, one from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and two from at large.

As a single-desk seller and major Cigi funder, it made sense for the wheat board to be represented on Cigi’s board, but now it will be neither. That’s why Cigi sought farmers to sit on its board, Cigi executive director Earl Geddes said in an interview June 20.

“Farmers will be funding us directly now, so we felt it was necessary to get more direct farmer involvement in what we do,” he said.

Farm groups, the wheat board and current board of directors came up with a list of names to be considered, Geddes said.

“We had three meetings to discuss the candidates,” he said. “It was a lot of work.”

The new directors are LeRon Torrie of Grassy Lake, Alta., Randy Johner of Midale, Sask. and Jim Wilson of Darlingford, Man.

Torrie grows wheat, durum, peas and hybrid canola seed on his 3,000-acre farm. His three sons are currently taking over the operation.

Johner farms almost 25,000 acres and grows peas, lentils, chickpeas, flax, canola, canary seed, wheat and durum.

Wilson and his wife Norleen operate a grain farm and a pedigreed seed plant where they produce, process and market cereals, oilseeds and pulse crops.

Cigi’s governance, which is set out in an agreement between the wheat board and federal government, remains in place. Geddes said he expects eventually farmer-run wheat or cereal councils will be set up in each Prairie province, with funding and overseeing Cigi as part of their mandates.

At the recent Farm Progress Show in Regina, Cigi officials, including Geddes, met with Cigi-farmer alumni to get feedback on what Cigi’s priorities should be.

Cigi has also surveyed farmers for their ideas, Geddes said. The poll revealed many farmers don’t know much about Cigi, he said.

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