The Alberta government is supporting agricultural commissions by giving producers more autonomy to choose which service-charge model works best for their industry.
The Marketing of Agricultural Products Amendment Act 2017 was tabled in the legislature April 11, states a government news release.
Amendments to the act would give each commission the ability to determine whether their service charges, also known as “check-offs,” should be refundable or non-refundable.
“This will allow boards and commissions to go back to their members through a plebiscite so that service charges are no longer refundable,” says Alberta Beef Producers vice-chair Roland Cailliau of Valleyview.
“If producers support this, it will allow commissions to have long-term stability in funding.”
Service charges are collected when an agricultural product is sold, or it is a base charge to each member of the commission.
“With this amendment, government would restore autonomy to agricultural commissions and their members,” says Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier, MLA for Whitecourt – Ste. Anne.
“We want them to have the power to determine their own service-charge model, because a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach doesn’t make sense in today’s diverse agriculture.”
Legislative changes in 2009 made all commission service charges refundable and Alberta became the only jurisdiction in Canada with mandatory refundable service charges.
Under the proposed amendments, members could change their commission’s service- charge model through a plebiscite.
MAPA was established in 1965 to enable producers to create agricultural commissions, provide services and help regulate sectors within the agricultural industry.
Before 2009, agricultural commissions had the option of refundable or non-refundable service charges. In 2009, MAPA was amended to require all commissions to issue refunds of their service charges at the request of any producer members.
The 2009 amendment specifically applied the mandatory refunds to the commissions for beef, lamb, potatoes and pork, which previously had non-refundable models.
Agricultural commissions in Alberta include Alberta Beef Producers, Alberta Peace Region Forage Seed Commission, Alberta Canola Producers Commission, Alberta Oat Growers Commission, Alberta Wheat Commission, and the Alfalfa Seed Commission.