- Without farmers actively participating in Commissions like SaskOats, Manitoba Oat Growers and Alberta Oat Growers there will be no avenue to allow them to leverage government and industry support. This would mean instead of farmers paying 18% of every dollar for research and marketing they will spend nearly 100%.
- Unlike the larger acre crops such as wheat and canola, major companies don’t typically fund oat research. Therefore, without producer funding there will be no more oat advancements like testing of fungicides and seeding rates, developing new varieties and marketing efforts to increase oat consumption in other countries.
- Since the project began in 2015, The Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA)* has been able to increase oat exports to Mexico by 210%. Increasing markets, and reducing reliance on the USA, is key for oat growers so this work as well as work in other countries will continue.
- POGA has applied for market access to both China and India, where oat consumption is currently rising by double digits, but Canada is not allowed to ship oats there. POGA has sent representatives to China on a Ministerial missions in both 2017 and 2018 with the Federal Minister of Ag and has hired a consultant with expertise in China to work to get market access approved and capture some of this growing market (between 2006 and 2017 the imports of oats increased over 55 times in China and oat consumption is increasing at about 20% per year in India so the potential in both countries is expected to be large in the near future).
- There are two projects being funded right now to hopefully increase the end uses of oats. This includes development of a healthy oat coffee creamer and oat-based beverage designed for cancer patients
- Since 2008, POGA has been able to turn $3,200,000 of check-off dollars into $17,900,000 worth of projects such as marketing and market access, research of new uses for oats, variety development and agronomics. Oat producers in Western Canada spend less than $0.18 of every dollar spent on oat research and marketing through the commission and we’ve been told that’s the best in the industry! The board, comprised of oat producers, work hard to ensure your money is used wisely and without matching producer funds we are unable to secure government or industry funding and oat research will all but be eliminated.
- Currently oat commissions funds about 30 different oat projects to promote new markets, better varieties and to test agronomic practices. The full list is available under research results at www.poga.ca. POGA supports research at the University of Saskatchewan, Oat Advantage in Saskatoon and AgriArm locations around Saskatchewan, breading programs across Western Canada, research at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), the University of Alberta and other locations.
- POGA works on policy with the government to help protect producers. Each year the board sends five representatives, two from Saskatchewan, two from Manitoba and one from Alberta as well as our Executive Director to Ottawa for three days. Last year we held 22 meetings in 2.5 days so it’s an incredibly busy 3 days for the team! This has allowed us to build relationships and make progress on important issues. For example, the oat commission put considerable pressure on the federal government to address transportation to the United States; not just within Canada as was originally proposed. With this work, we were able to get monitoring of rail service to the United States added to the transportation reporting CN and CP are required to do; a first in Canadian history. This has led to increased rail service to the US. This rail service is definitely not perfect but at least the US market was not forgotten as it would have been without pressure from the oat commission.
- POGA also supports farm communities. The commission uses local and rural companies when possible to support rural businesses. In addition, our 1.25 staff for 4 commissions are also farmers. This ensures a producer voice at every meeting we attend no matter if a board member or staff member attend.
Oats has the lowest check-off per tonne of any crop in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba at only $0.50/tonne or less than $.01 per bushel. Whether you grow 100 acres or 10,000 acres of oats you are still paying less than $.01 per bushel for this valuable research. The Oat Growers is very conscious of the cost farmers incur and therefore we do everything possible to keep our costs low including partnering with the Alberta and Manitoba commissions to share all administrative, marketing and research costs. We only employ one full time staff member and one quarter time staff member between all four of our organizations (the three commissions in AB, SK and MB as well as the Prairie Oat Growers Association) so that more dollars go where they should – to benefit the growers!
*POGA is 100% funded by the three provincial commissions and the board is made up of only those board members (there is no industry). Therefore, whenever a project is funded by POGA is funded by all oat growers in Western Canada that leave their check-off dollars with the provincial commission.