Potato Growers of Alberta Plebiscite

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At the request of the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) and in accordance with the provisions of the Marketing of Agricultural Products Act and the Potato Growers of Alberta Plebiscite Regulation, on November 15, 2018, the Alberta Agricultural Products Marketing Council (Marketing Council) conducted a plebiscite on the matter of the PGA’s service charge model refundability.

The plebiscite asked producers to vote on the following matter:
I would like the Potato Growers of Alberta to operate with a:
q Non-refundable service charge model
q Refundable service charge model
The service charge model structure is a structure under which the PGA collects service charges from producers. Under the PGA’s current regulations, a producer may request a refund of all or a portion of their provincial service charge from the PGA. The purpose of the plebiscite is to consider whether the service charge should be refundable or non-refundable.

Official Results
The official results of the ballot count: are as follows:

  • 68 votes cast
  • 82.3% of the votes were for a non-refundable service charge model
  • 16.2% of the votes were for a refundable service charge model
Percentages do not add up to 100% because one ballot was spoiled and was rejected by the Returning Officer.

In accordance with the Potato Growers of Alberta Plebiscite Regulation, the last day to contest the plebiscite was November 29, 2018. The Returning Officer did not receive any contests.

The next step is for the PGA Board of Directors to decide if they would like to move forward with changes to the PGA regulations to change the PGA service charge model from refundable to non-refundable. Any subsequent regulatory change will require approval from the PGA, Marketing Council, and government.

.More Information
In April 2017, the Alberta government announced that it would support Alberta Agricultural Commissions by giving producers more autonomy to choose which service charge model would work best for their industry.

In September 2017, the Marketing of Agricultural Products Act was amended to give producers of agricultural Commissions the ability to choose their preferred service charge model -refundable or non-refundable. Service charges are collected when an agricultural product is sold, or it is a base charge to each member of a Commission. These service charges enable a Commission to fund operational activities (research, promotion, education, etc.) and undertake initiatives that would benefit its industry.

The first step in the process of determining if a service charge model should change from refundable to non-refundable is for a Commission to request that the Alberta Agricultural Products Marketing Council (Marketing Council) conduct a plebiscite (a vote of producer membership). The Marketing of Agricultural Products Act establishes the regulation making authority for plebiscites - approval from the Lieutenant Governor in Council is required for Marketing Council to develop a plebiscite regulation with approval of the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry that guides and directs the specific voting procedure. More information about the various steps in the decision-making process can be found here.

In the fall of 2018, Marketing Council, by way of regulations, conducted plebiscites for two agricultural Commissions - the Alberta Beef Producers and the Potato Growers of Alberta. These plebiscites gauged the perspective of producers on whether the Commission’s service charge model should be:
  • Refundable – a full or partial refund would be returned to producers at their request; or,
  • Non-refundable – service charges would remain with the Commission without the ability for producers to request a refund.
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Janelle Hancock.
This document is maintained by Stacey Tames.
This information published to the web on September 19, 2018.
Last Reviewed/Revised on November 30, 2018.