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The Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA) was formed in 1998 by a group oat producers from Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba. Recognizing that oats was the only major grain commodity which did not have a representative support and advocacy group, the goal for POGA was to enhance the profitability of oats for producers.
POGA has long recognized that oat growers are major stakeholders in the oat industry. Many growers use newly developed oat varieties, but for many reasons, they are not involved in either directing or funding research, or in other activities which could advance their industry.
The POGA membership directed its leadership to begin seeking ways to correct that situation. It became evident that oats needed a strong advocacy group which would require stable on-going funding. That’s when a decision was made to explore the check-off option, following which it became clear each province would need to be under a separate check-off protocol.
Surveys of Saskatchewan farmers
In March 2004, with support from ADF in Saskatchewan and the federally-funded CARDS program, a series of eight producer meetings was advertised in local weekly newspapers in established oat-growing locations, and the Western Producer. The series was also promoted on five Saskatchewan radio stations. In addition, ads were run four weeks in the Western Producer, surveying producers on their views about a check-off on oats.
In spring of 2005 a further survey was sent to 7,500 Saskatchewan farmers who identified themselves as oat growers. The overall feedback from those surveys showed a clear majority of those surveyed supported the check off concept.
Although not all agreed, many oat growers said it was important to take charge of their own industry, and to have a strong voice in future decision-making about their industry. Some stated that farmers should have a clear influence on the direction of funding of research priorities and policy.
In July of 2005 a formal request was made to the Saskatchewan government, through the AgriFood Council. The council later recommended to the minister a check-off be allowed to proceed, and in April 2006 the Saskatchewan Oat Development Commission (SaskOats) was established by order-in-council, with the authority to collect a 50 cent per metric tonne (approximately one half cent per bushel) refundable check-off on oats grown in Saskatchewan and sold commercially. The check–off is refundable upon producer request.
SaskOats Board of Directors
The Saskatchewan Oat Development Commission has six members on its board of directors. These individuals are oat growers within the province that have expressed interest and were voted in by other oat producers in the province. Click here to see a list of current SaskOats board members.
SaskOats members are also encouraged to let their names stand for director positions. Benefits of being a director for SaskOats include:
- Identify and direct research for the benefit of the entire industry;
- Increased industry knowledge;
- The opportunity to meet a large number of influential millers, buyers, and government officials across the province, nation and globally;
- Increased information sharing with other growers to learn what other farmers are doing and have experienced;
- Increased industry knowledge;
- Professional development;
- Reimbursement for all travel, honorariums for time spent on the commissions’ projects and committees.
Please contact the POGA office for information on how to express interest.
Does Saskatchewan money stay in Saskatchewan?
SaskOats supports the Crop Development Centre in Saskatoon to help research new oat varieties and healthier oat oil. SaskOats also supports the Indian Head Research Foundation (IHARF) in studies such as oat row spacing and the development of a nitrogen application algorithm for oats.
In addition, SaskOats is part of the Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA) which consists of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Many of the initiative and objectives of the SaskOats are also the initiatives and objectives of oat growers across the Canadian Prairies. Therefore, the majority of the money is pooled to allow for greater impact and a larger resource pool to pull from.