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Editor’s Column: More than one way to skin a cat

Winter is the time for commodity associations to hold business meetings across the Prairies. Saskatchewan’s AGMs were held in Saskatoon, back in January. Alberta’s took place at the end of January, in Edmonton, and Manitoba’s meetings happened in mid-February, in Winnipeg. I’ve been attending as many of these meetings as I can, and I can’t help but think that we’ve created ideal conditions for some university-level management research studies.

Many of our associations are still fairly new, but our pulse crop organizations have been around a little longer. These associations operate very differently in each of the three Prairie provinces.

The Alberta Pulse Growers board members are chosen based on geographic zones (and one has the entertaining title of “director-at-large, non-bean”). In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, directors can come from any area, and they represent the whole province. One of the directors at the podium in Alberta noted that this brought more grassroots information to the organization.

The Alberta Pulse Growers holds business meetings in each zone. Resolutions must come to the floor (and pass) at these smaller-scale meetings before they can be presented at an AGM. In Saskatchewan, the Pulse Growers holds “regional” meetings, but these are information meetings, not business meetings.

I wondered if holding smaller-scale zone-based business meetings might be a better way to spark more farmer interest in the work the association is doing, but then I saw that the Alberta growers are asking for a provincial regulatory change to lower the size of the required quorum at zone meetings from 10 to eight, because, as their handout said, “some zones have challenges bringing 10 producers to meetings.”

Meanwhile, in Manitoba, the Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers is part of a five-commodity-group organization examining the possibility of amalgamating several commodity groups to form one larger group.

Apparently, there isn’t just “one best way” to run these organizations. These three groups have similar members and similar goals, but they’re operating in three very different ways. I’m sure the management researchers can get some very interesting material from this. Somewhere, I’m sure a business professor in a university office is applying for a grant right now.

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