Understanding the history of agriculture in western Canada is an important part of being able to determine what the future looks like and maybe even more important of how to get there.
In the short history it hasn’t been easy to get farmers together and stay together to work cooperatively.
The cyclical nature of the business tends to wear thin the best of intentions when things get tough. Those who are farmers tend to be an independent lot and those who are good at it maybe even more so.
Do those farmers make good directors? In my 30 plus years of being dairy coops I have run into only two individuals who had any formal training being a director and one of those was with another commodity group.
Coming up through the ranks of the Sask wheat pool delegate system during the time leading up to its demise did not provide adequate training to be able to take over in those turbulent times.
But like Enron, Arthur Anderson and Agrifoods Dairy coop, those hard lessons are what forces us to do better. But it gets tiring hearing about learning these lessons over and over, decade after decade.
The squandering of the new found liquidity after the share offering was the same poison that hit Agrifoods in 2000 after they sold their ice-cream business and the went on a spending spree to go national.
Profits in agriculture are hard to come by and need to be saved for a rainy day but that lesson doesn’t seem to translate into the farm organizations. Where surpluses do happen like in Sask pulse it isn’t used effectively and that leads to discontent like at Sask pulse and the movement to remove the check-off and at canola council where you get members withdrawing their funding.
Governance matters is doing a good job in advancing governance but I think the post secondary institutions should have a required class in governance from either a board member perspective or an association executive perspective.
It’s not in farmers norms to be thinking anything about governance