From informative industry updates to the closing keynote address, the second full day of the 2020 CAAR Conference left delegates with plenty to think about. Here are some of the highlights from Day Three:

Industry Updates

Representatives from Cleanfarms, Transport Canada and Fertilizer Canada each took to the stage to give conference delegates information on important industry initiatives and developments.

Shane Hedderson from Cleanfarms kicked-off the Industry Updates session with an overview of the Cleanfarms program, which started as an initiative by Croplife in 1989. Hedderson, who is the Western Region Business Manager for Cleanfarms, provided updates on the seed bag collection program and the expansion of the jug collection bag program to Manitoba and Alberta. Watch for details of the new and expanded programs and to find out how your retail can get involved.

Transport Canada’s Means of Containment Specialist Chris Nowak provided information on updates to B620 and B622 standards. The target publication date for B620:20 and B622:20 is expected to be in March 2020 and the new standards will come into effect on the day they are published; mandatory compliance is six months after publication. CAAR will be providing members with details of the changes on and in the Network over the next several weeks.

Catherine King, Vice President of Public Affairs at Fertilizer Canada, provided an overview of Fertilizer Canada’s regulatory and advocacy activities, including the work they are doing with Transport Canada to ensure reliable rail transport for fertilizer supplies, their efforts with advancing awareness of and compliance with 4R nutrient management, and the Fertilizer Code of Practice. Please keep an eye out for communications from CAAR regarding the Code of Practice.

Panel Discussion – AgGateway eConnectivity

AgGateway is a consortium of businesses serving the agriculture industry, with a membership that spans the ag tech value chain – from the software developers to the retailers in the field – and includes leading industry trade associations, international standards groups, state agencies, and academics focused on data exchange issues. 

For this panel discussion, Brent Kemp from AgGateway was joined by Taylor Wildeman, Director of Operations, Winfield United; Jordan Kuhns, Agronomy Portfolio Manager, Growmark; and Ryan Adams, Product Manger for Digital Agronomy, Nutrien. The panel was brought together to discuss eConnectivity and how it has helped contribute – or has the opportunity to contribute - to better customer relationships, efficiency and profitability for their companies.

Wildeman says that retailers who are moving towards a digital system should start by carefully examining their processes and cleaning up their data – ensuring customer files are complete and correct without duplication, for example. The initial investment of time, he says, will pay off when the system is implemented. Adams cautioned retailers to not spend too much time, however, when cleaning up old data. It could be easier and faster to start fresh, he says.

A transcript of this panel discussion will be published in the April issue of The Communicator.

Speaker Session – Craig Klemmer, Farm Credit Canada

Craig Klemmer, Principal Agricultural Economist with Farm Credit Canada, gave an interesting analysis of economic trends and provided insight on how national and global factors are driving the purchasing behaviour of farmers, and what it means for the health of the overall agriculture industry. 

In addition to providing a detailed snapshot of trends in the marketplace, including an overall softening of net farm income, Klemmer highlighted areas where retailers can fine-tune their strategies to remain competitive. 

“Canadian agriculture is adjusting, and we need to adjust with it,” said Klemmer. “There has been quite a bit of investment and scaling-up (by retailers); we need to ask if this is the time to be making investments. Are we in the position to adjust to adjust to a softening industry?”

Klemmer also pointed out some headwinds already creating challenges in 2020. He called-out African Swine Fever overseas as a major disruptor that should be looked at more seriously on this side of the ocean, as it has the potential to shift demand for feed grains and, in turn, inputs. 

The increasing demand for plant proteins is another area that Klemmer says will continue to be a conversation throughout 2020 and will create great opportunities for growers and retailers in Western Canada.

To view the 2020 Outlook for Canada’s Grains, Oilseeds and Pulses that Klemmer referred to in his presentation, please click here: 

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Steven Webb, Global Institute for Food Security

Dr. Steven Webb, CEO of the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) closed off the speaker program with a keynote presentation focusing on the valuable role that partnerships will play in the changing landscape of Canadian agriculture, and how ag retailers can use partnerships to drive innovation.

“Partnerships create shared value and shared success for all,” said Webb. “Partnerships help you gain valuable access to capital and technology; to experience; to insight. Your partner gains that from you as well.” 

Exhibitor of the Year

Congratulations to CAAR’s 2019 Exhibitor of the Year – North Star Systems Inc.

After getting their start at the 2017 CAAR Conference in Banff, this is Saskatoon-based North Star’s fourth conference as exhibitors. CEO Curtis Kolibab says it’s the opportunity to re-connect with customers and gain new relationships that keeps them coming back year after year.

“This is a great show for us,” said Kolibab. “We have many discussions that lead to business at this show, and it’s also great to connect with the other exhibitors here. 

It was impossible to miss the eye-catching, grass-green North Star booth, which showcased the company’s Tattle System and included a putting green. Congrats to the North Star team for their win on home turf!

That's a Wrap!

Thank you for attending the 2020 CAAR Conference. The CAAR staff and board wish you safe travels as you depart Saskatoon and make the journey home, full of ideas and inspiration.  

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