By Renn Breitkreuz, Director, Alberta Canola
This year I had the opportunity to attend FarmTech as a director of Alberta Canola, one of the 5 hosting organizations that bring this excellent show to producers. As usual, FarmTech delivered an excellent slate of speakers, great networking at the trade show, and new ideas that will help me on the farm. FarmTech 2017 reinforced its reputation as the flagship event of the Alberta crop commissions and most likely the best farm conference in Canada.
There were over 2000 farmers in attendance at the sold out show. There were several big name keynote speakers including former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire, and columnist Andrew Coyne. At first glance, some of these speakers may not have direct ties to primary agriculture, but they were highlights for me.
Mr. Mulroney spoke on the importance of trade, and suggested various strategies and tactics on how Canadians could potentially deal with a protectionist administration in the USA.
Lieutenant General Dallaire shared heart-rending stories of making decisions under extreme duress, and how Canada could potentially make military and humanitarian contributions in a world full of conflict.
Mr. Coyne spoke on the state of politics on both sides of the border, and highlighted the social, political, and fiscal implications of Canada’s aging population and strategies to mitigate the impact.
Alberta farmers are well aware of the global trends that have a bearing on international markets and our commodity prices, and all of these speakers touched on various global developments that will affect our farms in the years ahead. In addition to thought-provoking content, all three speakers delivered polished presentations full of humour and memorable stories.
A huge part of the event are the 30+ speakers offering over 50 valuable concurrent sessions ranging from agronomy, marketing, business management, farm succession, weather, policy, agricultural advocacy, sustainability, safety, rural development, drones, and more! Of course, it’s impossible to catch every session, but there is enough variety to keep everyone interested and learning whatever they choose. These sessions were smaller than the general keynote speakers and allowed for more technical talks with audience participation.
As well, a number of the crop commissions hosted their annual general meetings during FarmTech. This allows farmers the opportunity to attend these meetings to see what the commissions are up to and how they are investing farmer dollars. It also increases attendance at these meetings as farmers are already in the conference centre and are encouraged to attend. As a current director of Alberta Canola, I would encourage all farmers across Alberta to get involved and offer feedback to their crop commissions.
A big plus was the Wednesday night banquet with Clara Hughes as guest speaker. Clara Hughes is an Olympic champion and delivered a very energetic talk that had everyone buzzing. The food was great and it amazes me how quickly they can get 2000 people fed and watered.
FarmTech 2017 continues to be a world-class conference, and it is held right here in Alberta! I believe it must be the best farm conference in Canada, and after having discussions with family and friends from various occupations, it likely ranks up there with any conference in any industry. A special congratulations and thank you to the farmers and staff on the FarmTech committee who invest a lot of time to make it the success it is!
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.