The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (Sask Wheat) and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association (MWBGA) have announced the formation of the Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC), a federal not-for-profit corporation that will facilitate long-term investments aimed at improving profitability and competitiveness for western Canadian wheat farmers.
The CWRC will facilitate a collaborative approach to producer funding of regional and national research projects in variety development and agronomy including the next Canadian National Wheat Cluster and core wheat breeding agreements with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and universities. Additional regional projects that align with variety development and agronomic priorities will also be considered for funding through the CWRC.
“Most of the best performing wheat varieties available to farmers are the result of producer-funded wheat breeding efforts,” said Kevin Auch, AWC chair and CWRC director. “I look forward to working with my provincial counterparts to continue this work with the goal of seeing new, high performing varieties that result in better returns and increased competitiveness for farmers.”
The three wheat commissions will serve as founding members on the farmer-led board of directors. The structure allows for additional producer or private sector groups that share an interest in advancing wheat research in Canada to join as organizational members. This inclusive arrangement provides a platform for the CWRC to pursue new public, private, producer partnerships (4Ps).
“Producer collaboration and funding has been important to sustaining Canada’s wheat research and variety development programs,” said Bill Gehl, Sask Wheat chair. “The commissions working together under the CWRC will enhance the role of producers in supporting the research community.”
The formation of the CWRC directly follows the commissions’ increased responsibility in funding core wheat breeding agreements and the national wheat cluster, coinciding with the end of the Western Canadian Deduction (WCD) on July 31, 2017. Under the previous structure, the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) led these research initiatives through WCD funding. In preparation for the end of the WCD, the commissions signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining their agreement to partner in setting variety development priorities and funding commitments that meet the needs of wheat farmers in Western Canada. As a result of the MOU, the commissions will ensure continuity in new spring wheat variety development is maintained through the CWRC, and will continue to engage WGRF as a key player through this transition. Project funding will be shared on a proportionate basis by commissions based on check-off revenue.
“With the end of the WCD, we look forward to working with our fellow wheat commissions in taking on increased responsibility related to variety development,” said Cale Jeffries, MWBGA director and CWRC board member.
The CWRC will be administered by a host commission, which will rotate every three years starting with Sask Wheat. The CWRC’s first board will consist of eight farmers including Kevin Auch, Jason Saunders and Terry Young representing AWC; Ken Rosaasen, Glenn Tait and Laura Reiter representing Sask Wheat; and Cale Jeffries and Dylan Wiebe representing MWBGA.