Stepping up and speaking out for canola farmers
Meet four new, seasoned and past Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) directors. Whether they stepped up for a specific reason or were encouraged by others, they share a common goal: Represent canola farmers, act in their best interest and strive for continual improvement of our industry in Manitoba as well as at the national and international levels.
As your representatives, they are always available to listen to your concerns and answer any questions you may have.
Why did you decide to run for the MCGA Board?
Bill: “I see these kinds of organizations as a way to empower farmers and protect their interests. I felt the MCGA was a valuable organization working on behalf of farmers and that I might have some experience that could benefit the group.”
Pam: “The sayings ‘Before you complain, are you ready to volunteer?’ and ‘Learn by doing’ both played heavily into my decision. At canolaPALOOZA 2017, I asked Chuck Fossay why there weren’t women or young people on boards like MCGA. He suggested I run and solve both problems. Initially I thought I was not qualified or experienced enough, but I also try not to complain about something unless I am willing to change it. I inquired about what commitment looks like for a commodity board, the challenges and opportunities that went with it, and I realized this was something I really wanted to try.”
What are you hoping to achieve?
Clayton: “To see that MCGA focuses research efforts in an area that’s not being duplicated by seed or chemical companies, but still has an impact for all farmers in Manitoba and remains independent and unbiased.”
Pam: “I want to give back to the membership because that’s my job as a board member. I would like to help continue to highlight the value and importance of the MCGA to its members and Manitoba consumers, as well as the value of canola to Canadian consumers. I feel I have the unique role especially when I go home to visit the Maritimes.”
How do you make time to be involved?
Brian: “Community involvement is important to our family. I have to credit my wife for ensuring our kids always got to their activities, and my kids for being understanding. Also prioritizing with all the other things you have to do, and remembering the benefits.”
Clayton: “Fortunately the time away from home is usually on what I call the ‘shoulder season’ right after harvest and before seeding. Typically those meetings fall at a time of year when I have less family obligations. That helps. Being close to Winnipeg is of value. Being able to go a meeting during the day and still be at home for the kids bedtime makes it less of a burden on our family.”
What would you say to someone who is considering running?
Brian: “It’s an opportunity for you to learn and grow. The level of time commitment is up to you. If you want to go beyond the required board meetings, there is opportunity to build on interests you have in many aspects of the industry.”
Pam: “Go for it – what have you to lose? Specifically, if you are a young person or a woman in agriculture who wants to see programs, services and resources that support them as producers, go for it. If you do not think you have enough experience, that might be true, but how else are you going to gain experience? Staff and other board members are there to help you. You have a valuable viewpoint that is uniquely yours. Your voice matters. Diversity is needed on every board and has been scientifically proven to make boards more productive and more effective.”
Clayton: “It allows you to be at the forefront of information that is of relevance to farmers when it first comes out. You will inevitably pick up and see things that are relevant to you, your neighbours and other members and be able to share and apply them to benefit your farm. That aspect makes it easier to justify the time away.”
What are some takeaways from your time on the board?
Bill: “I have been very impressed by the enthusiasm, commitment and knowledge of the MCGA staff and CCC agronomists that regularly deal with the board. Our new executive director has brought tremendous energy and new perspectives to MCGA while quickly grasping the complexities of research and the dynamics of board governance.”
Clayton: “It’s hard to pick just one. As a director, I like being able to talk directly to researchers or someone very specialized in what they know about canola, to hear and see information first hand on an ongoing basis.”
Brian: “I learned a lot. Understanding the intricacies and dynamics of all that happens from farm production to the end-use customer. It’s given me a broader perspective of what the rest of the value chain has to deal with when exporting canola to other countries, and the value of ensuring we’re following regulations at the farm level.”
Crops Grown: Canola, wheat, soybeans
Years Farming: 4 years
Family: Husband & Ruby the boxer puppy
Farms with: Husband and father-in-law
Background: From a tiny mixed farm near Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Bachelor of Technology (environmental horticulture) from the Faculty of Agriculture at Dalhousie University. Worked in various roles in and outside of agriculture. Moved to Portage la Prairie in April 2014 and found a job as an agricultural parts person where I met the man who turned out to be my husband. Came for work, stayed for love.
Joined Board: February 2018
Committees: Market Development, Member Engagement and Extension
Location: Shoal Lake
Crops Grown: Canola, wheat, barley, peas, soybeans
Years Farming: 40 years
Family: Wife and five adult children
Farms with: Two sons, sister & brother-in-law plus seasonal employees
Background: Grew up on the farm, attended school in Shoal Lake. Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Engineering at University of Manitoba. Worked for Versatile Manufacturing in Winnipeg for 4 years before returning to the farm full-time.
Joined Board: February 2016
Committees: Market Development, Governance and Finance
Location: Winnipeg (R.M. of Rosser & St. Clements)
Crops Grown: Canola, wheat, soybeans, forage grass seed
Years Farming: 19 years
Family: Wife and two school-age children
Farms with: On my own. Seasonal help from a neighbour
Background: Grew up on the farm. Diploma in Agriculture – University of Manitoba. Took over family farm after graduation.
Joined Board: February 2012
Committees: Research, Governance and Finance, Market Development
Location: East Selkirk
Crops Grown: Canola, wheat, soybeans, timothy seed
Years Farming: 26
Family: Wife, two adult daughters & son-in-law
Farms with: Wife and son-in-law Kyle with seasonal help from brothers.
Background: Born and raised on the farm, have always been involved. Degree in Agricultural Engineering – University of Manitoba Lived in Winnipeg for 10 years. Worked in engineering career for 14 years before taking over the farm.
Joined Board: 2004
Position: Past board member
Committees: Various committees over 14 years on board
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