The first full day of the 2020 CAAR Conference was packed with conversation, information and celebration. Here are your Day Two highlights:

Roundtable Discussions

Wednesday got off to a roaring start with structured, moderated conversations covering topics that resonated well with participants. It was a great opportunity to meet, share insight, and get the perspective of others on topics such as such as Sales & Customer Service, Safety & Training, and Technology & Services and Retail Management.

Scott Duesing of CF Industries, summarized the Retail Management: Suppliers Ever Changing – How to Adapt and Succeed session. He said that the group touched on the frustration that can come from supplier changes – like staff turnover that leaves less-experienced reps – but also the opportunities that exist, such as access to new products. 

Watch for a summary of the Roundtable conversations in a future Network.

Industry Updates

Eric Gregory, CSTA’s liaison to the CAAR board of directors, shared the latest information on two hot topics in the seed industry: the value creation model, which is currently being contemplated by the seed industry, and the Seed Synergy Collaboration Project.

Bringing together six national seed organizations, including the CSTA, Seed Synergy will be providing a vision for the next generation seed system, with a focus on fostering innovation. Gregory says that the goal of the project, which has been in the discussion stage since 2016, is to keep the Canadian seed trade competitive within the global community. The move to consolidate the groups will be decided on at the CSTA’s member vote in July 2020.

Following Gregory’s presentation, Russel Hurst from CropLife Canada took to the podium to provide the State of the (Agricultural) Union. He presented the organization’s views and activities in Ottawa and touched on PMRA re-evaluation and how CropLife is working with the PMRA to improve the process. 

Speaker Session – Sean Mitchell, University of Guelph

Sean Mitchell, an undergrad research assistant in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Guelph, presented delegates with the results of the 2019 Canadian Precision Agriculture Dealership Survey. 

The survey, which was previously conducted in Ontario only, was expanded across Canada for the last year with the help of CAAR. Mitchell says that partnering with the association allowed his team to gather good first-year results and hopes that the relationship will continue.

“This survey is targeted towards retailers because they are a consistent group – from a researcher’s perspective that provides a standard data set – and we can track changes over a long term,” he said. “In the future, we hope to continue doing the survey through CAAR and that will allow us to project long-term what the adoption rates are of different technologies in Canada.

“Precision agriculture presents many opportunities for retailers and agronomists to help producers use and benefit from technology.”

Keep your eye out for an in-depth look at the 2019 survey results in an upcoming issue of The Communicator.

CAAR’s 2020 Annual General Meeting

The AGM was held over the lunch hour on the tradeshow floor to give CAAR members a better opportunity to attend and vote. 

The following members were appointed to the board of directors for a one-year term, ending February 2021: Theresa Bolton, Grasslands Recruitment Specialists; Martin Kiefer, Agrico Canada, L.P.; Drew Taylor, AGI Yargus.

CAAR would like to thank outgoing board members, Don Kitson, IRM; Luke Burton, Simplot; and Dave Thompson, AABC/AFC for their service and dedication to the board.

The board of directors will meet for the first time as a group on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020 in Saskatoon.

Speaker Session – Adelle Stewart, Do More Agriculture Foundation

Adelle Stewart, executive director of the Do More Agriculture Foundation (Do More Ag), spoke about ways to maintain mental wellness and gave delegates some important mental health tools to bring back to their own businesses and communities. 

Stewart encouraged retailers to create a culture of wellness in their organization, starting with some techniques that they can use when facing a potentially stressful situation.

“It can be as simple as taking ten seconds before going into a meeting or letting the phone ring a couple extra times,” Stewart told delegates. “It may just be enough to change your perspective.” 

Visit Do More Ag for an extensive list of mental health resources, crisis lines and websites across Canada, or to get more information on mental health first aid training. 

CAAR Pro-Ag Investments Auction

CAAR extends a big thank you to everyone who participated in the CAAR Pro-Ag Investments Auction and congratulations to the successful bidders! The bidding was led by everyone’s favourite auctioneers, Dallas and Sheldon, and there was plenty of good-natured competition as retailers swiped up some great merchandise!

To our generous donors who provided such a fantastic lineup of auction items – thank you! You’ve helped make the 2020 Pro-Ag Investments Auction another resounding success. Watch a future edition of The Network for the grand total raised at today’s event.

Don’t forget - there’s still time to support your association by bidding on the wide range of items available in the silent auction, but hurry - winners will be announced during conference closing. Check your auction guide for the list of items available.

CAAR’s Choice Awards Banquet

The best-of-the-best in ag retail were honoured at the CAAR’s Choice Awards Banquet on Wednesday night. It was a pleasure to recognize the following members for their commitment to business excellence, sustainability and their local communities.  

 2019 Agronomist of the Year: Greg Hodgins, Holmes Agro
Award Sponsored by Simplot
 2019 4R Nutrient Stewardship Agri-Retailer: Cargill Ltd.
Award Sponsored by Fertilizer Canada
 2019 Retailer of the Year: Crop Management Network, Alberta    
Award Sponsored by Bayer CropScience Inc.
 Retailer Hall of Fame: Dennis Bulani, Rack Petroleum    
Award Sponsored by Glacier FarmMedia
 Chairman’s Award: Al Driver, Bayer CropScience Inc.

Congratulations to everyone who received an award tonight. Read a profile of each winner in the April 2020 issue of The Communicator.

Thursday Agenda Highlights

8:10 – 9:10 a.m.: Industry Updates 
Representatives from Cleanfarms, Transport Canada and Fertilizer Canada will be presenting to conference delegates at this informative Industry Update. Click here for a sneak peek: Industry Update #2 

9:20 – 10:20 a.m.: Panel Discussion – AgGateway eConnectivity
Find out how improved eConnectivity can help you become more efficient and increase the value of your customer relationships, ultimately contributing to your business’ bottom line. Click here to read more about CAAR’s involvement with AgGateway: Making Stronger Connections

11:00 – 11:50 a.m.: Speaker Session – Craig Klemmer, Farm Credit Canada 
“Trade, Dollar and Interest Rates: What does it Mean for the Health of Canadian Agriculture?” Sponsored by Farm Credit Canada

12:45 – 1:45 p.m.: Keynote Speaker – Dr. Steven Webb, Global Institute for Food Security 
“Public/Private Partnerships and Collaborations are Essential to the Design, Development and Deployment of Agricultural Innovations”

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