Canola Council resets course for ‘efficiencies’

Organization to pull back from farm-level agronomy, consumer promotions

canola
(Photo courtesy Canola Council of Canada)

Facing new limits on available funding, Canada’s canola value chain organization plans to refocus its work on its “core strengths” and collaborate with other players.

The Canola Council of Canada on Wednesday announced a revised work plan, coming out of a “priorities review” undertaken after one of Canada’s biggest grain companies called a halt to annual funding for several oilseed industry groups.

Richardson International announced in January it would withdraw yearly commitments worth over $1 million combined to the Canola Council, Soy Canada and the Flax Council of Canada — the lion’s share of which had gone to the canola body.

The Winnipeg-based Canola Council’s resources “are now more tightly focused on the industry’s current priorities and the CCC programs most valued by members,” the council said in a release Wednesday.

From the perspective of the Canadian canola grower, that tightened focus will mean “less emphasis” on extension-style agronomy work by council staff, such as “individual field walks and on-farm support.”

Rather, the council said, it will put more focus on “engaging commercial agronomy in effective delivery and amplification of knowledge and best management practices to growers,” to be co-ordinated through a new CCC “sustainable supply committee.”

The council’s own agronomy specialists will still have “geographic responsibilities,” but are also expected to increase their focus on their “individual areas of specialization” such as clubroot, blackleg, stand establishment, weed management, storage management and others.

Staff will still provide “credible, evidence‐based data and knowledge to support all areas of CCC activity” from production issues though to “supporting market access objectives,” the council said.

Some council programming will also be moved to “other parts of the value chain,’ the CCC said. For instance, it plans to reduce its role in administering the Canola Performance Trials and transfer that responsibility to other stakeholders.

Other activities, such as the Ultimate Canola Challenge and sentinel site program, will be wrapped up, the council said.

The council said its team will also be “less involved” in provincial disease and pest surveying.

Market access and government advocacy remain “top priorities of the full canola value chain,” the council said, but CCC members “can also expect to see more advocacy on cross‐commodity issues” as the council offers “leadership and additional support” to the Canada Grains Council and Canadian Agri‐Food Trade Alliance.

Consumer‐oriented canola promotions will be “discontinued” in large markets where canola is “firmly established,” the council said, and its marketing work will shift to “maintenance and nurturing of the Canadian canola brand.”

In “new and emerging” markets, the council said it will work with the Canadian Canola Growers Association to develop and deliver a program for canola brand promotion and awareness, particularly in countries such as South Korea, Vietnam and Chile, where “free trade agreements are creating new opportunities.”

To fund its work, the council said, it plans to decouple its budget from a levy linked to production, processing and handling and instead tie the budget directly to “priorities and programs.”

The funding model will “provide more predictability for annual contributions,” the council said. Half the budget funding would come from producer groups, the other 50 per cent from the industry.

Thus, the council said, its core budget for 2019 will be $5.2 million, down from $8.7 million in 2017.

Core funders of the council include the three Prairie provinces’ checkoff-funded canola grower groups, the Canadian Canola Growers Association and (through the CCGA) the Ontario Canola Growers and B.C. Grain Producers Association.

Other funding sources include a voluntary processor levy through the Canadian Oilseed Processors Association, contributions from life science companies such as Bayer, BASF, Corteva, Syngenta and Nutrien and a voluntary levy on export companies such as Viterra, G3, Bunge, Cargill, Parrish and Heimbecker and Providence Grain.

“We’re very pleased that all segments of the value chain are fully behind the direction we are taking,” council president Jim Everson said in a release. “It’s a direction that will enable us to continue our record of leadership, while enhancing our partnerships.”

“With (council members’) input, we determined that the Keep it Coming 2025 strategic plan should remain our industry’s roadmap, and we will reset our priority activities to better respond to today’s needs,” council chair David Dzisiak said in the same release.

The Keep it Coming 2025 plan is based on achieving 52 bushels per acre to meet global market demand of 26 million tonnes by 2025. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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