By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley Commission (ABC) have unveiled their new branding for the newly-amalgamated commission.
Recognizing the importance of collaboration and unity, the two farmer-directed organizations will share resources and serve Alberta’s grain farmers jointly under the commission’s new name Alberta Grains.
The amalgamated commission represents the interests of over 18,000 of Alberta’s wheat and barley farmers. Now, as a united entity, Alberta Grains will leverage the strengths, resources, and experience of both the former AWC and ABC to create a unified voice for its members on matters such as economic sustainability, innovation, and growth in Alberta’s grain industry.
Reflected in its new branding, Alberta Grains unveiled the merged commission’s new logo last week. According to Alberta Grains, the commission’s new emblem, “is a symbol of the organization’s commitment and unified strength to the province’s crop sector,” and the new logo is, “designed to represent the grains that are grown in the province, with a modern and clean design that reflects the organization’s vision of strength and ‘better together’ mantra.”
The process leading to the recent merger began in 2017 after the ABC and AWC implemented a shared management structure. The resulting collaboration and focus between the two commissions over the past two years followed multiple consultations with a farmer sub-committee which sought input and feedback of wheat and barley farmers throughout the province.
According to Alberta Barley Chair, Tara Sawyer, the merger, “signifies an exciting step forward for both organizations and the agricultural sector in Alberta.”
Sawyer said the goal of the new commission is to continue to bolster operational efficiencies and further the interests of grain farmers across Alberta.
Before 2018, both AWC and Alberta Barley still operated independently, with separate teams. However, both commissions shared finance, HR and administration staff, and worked closely in the same office space.
In September 2017, the AWC and ABC’s boards decided to enter into a pilot project to explore the implications of further merging operations and staff to operate under a unified management team, noting many instances of overlap in terms of policy, research, and market development. s a joint
Consultations were held in autumn of 2021, and subsequently, during the 2021-2022 winter meeting seasons, Alberta farmers signed off on holding two farmer plebiscites at the ABC and AWC’s respective Annual General Meetings later in 2022. In November 2022, the AWC and ABC released results from two plebiscites held in October, which concluded 88 and 89 per cent of barley and wheat farmers, respectively, supported amalgamating into one commission. At that time, Sawyer said the results provided the leadership with, “a clear direction” on the member’s preferred path forward for both commissions. According to Alberta Grains, several years of operating the AWC and ABC under a unified management team resulted in over $350,000 in savings which supported the advancement of various initiatives and research.
With the formation of Alberta Grains, Lethbridge County, Barons, and the entire province of Alberta are poised to continue making strides in the global grain industry. This merger represents a significant milestone in the region’s agricultural history and is anticipated to contribute to the growth, success, and sustainability of Alberta’s grain sector.
Director at large for AWC (now Alberta Grains) Dave Bishop also farms near Barons and said, “I think this is great for Alberta’s wheat and barley farmers because coming together gives us a stronger voice.”
“I think the strength about doing it is to have the expertise of both the commissions serving the needs of the farmers. The core programming was very similar. So it just made sense to come together as one unit.”
Alberta Grains will officially begin operating in place of the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions on August 1, 2023. For more information and to check out the new logo visit http://www.albertawheatbarley.com.