IN MID-FEBRUARY, the Manitoba Co-operator published an article about increasing collaboration between organizations and the issue of checkoff fee fatigue across the province. In this piece, the column pointed to Grain Farmers of Ontario as a testimonial for consolidation, and, frankly, not without some bias, I agree that we are a great example of organizational efficiency.
Manitoba commodity organizations are in the early stages of reviewing the situation in their province and are working with a consultant to determine areas to improve efficiencies. Research and market development have been noted as key areas where dollars could be streamlined, and the possibility of consolidating some organizations is on the table.
It’s interesting looking from the outside in, hearing comments about the benefits of a bigger and more effective organization — from simple things like singular office space, to far-reaching aspects like greater impact and a unified voice at a national level.
As Manitoba explores the possibility of consolidation, there is skepticism brewing around the ability of a single provincial organization able to represent multiple crops. From Grain Farmers of Ontario’s perspective, that same skepticism existed in Ontario prior to our formation and has been put to rest as we are pleased to now represent five crops, with the addition of barley and oats last July. Each crop now reaps the rewards of collaboration.
As an example of how this has benefited a commodity, Grain Farmers of Ontario was recently represented at the Barley Council of Canada’s annual meeting. And, at this meeting, Markus Haerle, Grain Farmers of Ontario director for District 14 (Prescott, Russell, Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry), was appointed to the Barley Council of Canada’s board of directors. Without joining forces within Grain Farmers of Ontario, Ontario barley farmers would not have had a voice at this table, and now they will have access and input from a national perspective to barley research and market development. As a result of this action, Ontario farmers will have another competitive crop to incorporate into their crop rotation.
In regards to oats, there isn’t a national organization dedicated to this crop, however, we look forward to connecting with the Prairie Oat Growers Association to explore possible synergies with that organization. Just as we do with all the crops we represent, we will look for opportunities to share resources and knowledge for the benefit of our farmer-members.
It will be interesting to see what takes shape as Manitoba delves into potential organizational efficiencies. If there is any question remaining whether a provincial organization can successfully represent multiple commodities. I believe Grain Farmers of Ontario has the answer, and that answer is a strong yes. •