By Kevin Serfas, Director, Alberta Canola
On September 20th, 2016, I had an opportunity to be part of the Team Alberta delegation that met with Minister Carlier of Agriculture and Forestry and Minister Mason of Transportation to talk about transportation policy that meets the needs of Canadian agriculture. Even though it was the middle of harvest, timing couldn’t have been more perfect with the large projected crop coming off this year it was critical that we voiced Alberta’s cropping sector needs for shipping grain. The Canada Transportation Act review will conclude soon and consultations with the provincial Ministers at the September 28th Federal-Provincial-Territorial meetings are one of the most important steps in finalizing the review.
Team Alberta is a collaborative initiative of Alberta Barley, Alberta Canola, Alberta Pulse Growers, and the Alberta Wheat Commission, which advances policy on behalf of Alberta’s crop sector. The awesome thing about Team Alberta is that we can speak with a unified voice about issues that are common to all four commodity groups.
Here are a few takeaways I had from this meeting:
1) The staff that each Commission employs such as Executive Directors and Policy Analysts are second to none. The more I see these people at work, the more I realize how in tune they are with everything that is going on with the industry and how hard they are working for issues that matter to us on the ground. They are extremely good at preparing us as directors for occasions such as this. Filling us in on the history of issues and helping us focus on the key points we need to make. As directors, we are first and foremost farmers. We don’t have the time to be fluent in all matters, but we know what is important to our business. These people help us to put our issues into a global context and get our point across in ways that resonate.
2) Politicians want to hear from farmers. They want to know how issues relate to people that actually farm. While staff may be more versed in the subject matter policy details, they want the farmer directors to speak up and voice their opinions. It makes issues far more relatable to the Ministers and puts the issues on a personal level.
3) I had no idea what to expect as I walked in the meeting doors. I had no defined role other than to represent my fellow canola growers. I would have been happy using this opportunity as a learning experience for the next government outreach; but, during the meeting there were lots of opportunities where I could add value to the conversation and engage directly with the Minister while surrounded by colleagues with the same goal as myself. Not only did I learn a great deal in that room about how these types of meetings are run, I learned a little bit about myself.
As I continue along in my early tenure as director with Alberta Canola, I am thankful for every new experience that I am presented. The list of things that I thought I would never do seems to get shorter by the month. And the great thing about it is at the end of the day, I am helping fellow canola growers in this province make headway to become more profitable and productive.
Alberta Canola Connects is your window into the activities of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission as we work both locally and globally to make Alberta canola producers more profitable.