Lots to learn at FarmTech 2015
Alberta Barley’s directors and staff headed to Edmonton this week for the 16th annual FarmTechTM conference. Communications coordinator and ag novice Sydney Duhaime tagged along to see what this conference was all about.
As someone who was born and raised in the city, there are still lots of things I have to learn about in the world of agriculture.
After nine months on the job, I have been exposed to a lot of different elements in this exciting, ever-changing industry, and I am always eager to learn more. That’s why I was so pumped to head up to Edmonton this week for FarmTechTM 2015—my first official ag conference—and an amazing educational opportunity!
The following is an abbreviated run-down of my first day at FarmTech. Tomorrow I’ll check back in with another blog on all the takeaways from day two.
I spent the morning of the first day in the main hall at the Alberta Barley booth. You could feel the excitement in the room, as every person I chatted with had a passion for agriculture and were thrilled to be here.
2015 Grain Markets and Basis Outlook and Opportunities
Presenter: Moe Agostino
In the afternoon, I made my way to my first session, “2015 Grain Markets and Basis Outlook and Opportunities.”
As I mentioned before, the world of markets and basis is not a familiar one to me; and though this presentation didn’t make me an expert on the subject, it did help me to understand some of the factors that will affect agriculture markets in 2015.
Global factors such as a growing agricultural industry in South America, the low Canadian dollar, the high U.S dollar, and the tensions between Russia and the Ukraine will all play an important role in shaping the grain markets here at home.
Our presenter, Moe Agostino, chief commodity strategist with Farms.com Risk Management, explained how these factors come together to affect crop prices. From there, Agostino got a bit more specific, and let us in on the projections for the 2015 barley market. This year, barley farmers can expect target prices between $208 and $238 a tonne—up 46.6 per cent from 2014.
Following his presentation, I caught up with Agostino hoping he could answer a few of my questions—which he did, very graciously.
However, with every question he answered, I had three more. My understanding of basis and markets is the proverbial Rome—it wasn’t built in a day and I have a lot more to learn.
Understanding Variety Registration – Past, Present, Future?
Presenter: Erin Armstrong
The next session I went to was, “Understanding Variety Registration – Past, Present, Future?” presented by Erin Armstrong, director of industry & regulatory affairs with Canterra Seeds.
Armstrong started off the session by explaining the purpose of variety registration. The current variety registration system has been used to prevent misrepresentations of varieties, facilitate seed certification, support our grain quality assurance system and provide information for traceability. From what I know about sustainability, and the growing importance of social license in agriculture, traceability is an increasingly important feature to have.
Though the current system has a lot of benefits, it isn’t without some shortcomings—in fact, the system is undergoing a federal review to determine where it can be improved.
As Armstrong explained, the goal of this review is to streamline the registration process and improve innovation, competitiveness, and overall regulatory modernization.
The proposed changes are meant to ensure the system is as efficient, transparent and predictable as possible, and will be evaluated with input from the agricultural value-chain—with the goal of being fully implemented by 2016.
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to variety registration, and I have a lot more to learn about this topic.
Looking back on my first day, FarmTechTM has offered me an experience that I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else: the chance to connect with farmers and industry members, and the opportunity to listen to presentations about issues that truly affect our industry.
I am looking forward to tomorrow, another day and more to learn.