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Feb 13

Western Barley Growers Association 38th annual convention offers something for everyone

Posted on Feb 13 By: Sydney Duhaime

The Western Barley Growers Association (WBGA) held their 38th annual convention this week at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino in Calgary, AB. Communications coordinator Sydney Duhaime headed down to day one of the event to see what it was all about.

The WBGA 38th annual convention, held in conjunction with the Barley Council of Canada’s (BCC) annual general meeting, offered a great mix of speakers from farmer and industry organizations to research groups and industry.

With over 80 per cent of Canadian barley grown in western Canada, it is no wonder this convention boasts: ‘Western Canadian Barley: The #1 choice.’

Brett Campbell, executive director of the BCC, kicked off the day with a presentation on how the BCC works collaboratively with farmer and industry members to grow the Canadian barley value-chain.

Phil de Kemp, the president of the Malting Industry Association of Canada followed and his presentation title, ‘Potpourri’… A perspective on a little bit of everything from the ‘tractor to trade to transportation’ was a great indicator of the day to come.

This conference had everything, from discussions on transportation and genetically modifying technologies to increasing yields through agronomic practices. However, the overlying focus of the day seemed to be on sustainability, and it’s importance heading into the future.

Jeff Fitzpatrcik-Stilwell, senior manager sustainability from McDonald’s Canada kicked off the discussion with an explanation as to how and why McDonald’s is working to source sustainable beef.

After lunch, Erin Gowriluk, Alberta Barley and Alberta Wheat Commission’s government relations and policy manager, continued the conversation by laying out the idea and impetus for the Alberta Crops Sustainability Pilot Project—which is set to begin next month.

Gowriluk explained that a joint environmental policy between Alberta Barley and Alberta Wheat Commission sparked discussion surrounding social license and consumers growing concern regarding sustainability. That discussion led to a partnership with Alberta Canola Producers Commission and Alberta Pulse Growers to create the Alberta Crops Sustainability Pilot Project.

The goal of this project is to determine how current farming practices in Alberta compare to three internationally recognized sustainability programs. This project will help us to determine the gaps and strengths in our farming practices when it comes to sustainability and more significantly, prepare farmers to contribute to this increasingly important conversation.

To give the farmer perspective, our vice-chairman Jason Lenz brought it home with a discussion on how sustainability programs and practices affect him and his farm. Lenz also implored attendees to sign up for the Alberta Crops Sustainability Pilot Project, as farmer participation is critical to identifying a practical sustainability standard for the crops sector. eHe

All-in-all, the WBGA conference was a rousing success with great presentations and lots of farmer feedback. I am looking forward to WBGA’s 39th annual convention and I hope to see you there.

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