A new era of provincial wheat and barley marketing will soon be ushered in.
“The Wheat Board used to make the decisions about how producers' checkoff money was spent,” Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart told the Times-Herald on Monday. “Now that they lost that power, producers have the opportunity themselves to determine how their own money is going to be spent.”
Provincial wheat and barley producers have the opportunity to make their voices heard until Friday. That is the deadline registered wheat and barley producers have to cast their ballots in the first ever elections for the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission and Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission.
The mail-in ballots accompanied voter packages that were recently mailed to the aforementioned producers. A couple of Moose Javians – Rob Rigetti and Bartt Chute – are running to be on the wheat commission.
Both elected commissions are expected to directly affect the future of wheat and barley producers.
“The checkoff money (will go) towards research, market development and the promotion of wheat and barley, and that's very important to the industry,” said Stewart. “All three of those are major pieces that I think have been overlooked in the past.”
Stewart added that under the supervision of the Wheat Board wheat and barley numbers declined in relation to other crops in terms of acres, production and research dollars.
“The Wheat Board did a very poor job of that and I'm hopeful that the producer groups will do much better,” said Stewart.
Looking ahead to the future, checkoffs administered by the commissions are expected to generate about $5 million annually to go towards research, market development and the promotion of wheat and barley.
“The provincial checkoff is what these commissions will be able to spend.
“The checkoff for barley – and this is all by agreement of the industry – is $0.50 per ton, and the checkoff for wheat is $0.52 per ton,” Stewart stated. “With the amount of production we have in this province that adds up quite substantially.”
Established by the Ministry of Agriculture in June 2013, the new boards are expected to take office during the commissions’ annual general meeting next month. They will likely meet several times a year.
Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks