CAAR board and staff share with members a look at what their association’s priorities are for 2021.

As the geopolitical environment evolves, the need for an association representing the voice of the agriculture industry is needed now more than ever, says Mitch Rezansoff, executive director of CAAR. Public opinion continues to drive legislation rather than sound science, economic value and contribution.

Advocating on behalf of the Canadian agriculture industry to maintain international competitiveness and lessen or eliminate burdening regulations impacting Canadian agriculture production will continue to be a priority for CAAR in 2021.

Due to marketplace changes, the CAAR board and executive council have recognized the need for the association to evolve while continuing to provide value to ag retailers.

“COVID-19 forced our membership to adapt quickly to ensure the business of ag retailing continued uninterrupted,” says Rezansoff. “CAAR immediately set forth a plan to assess the impacts of these adaptations and adjust our deliverables.”

Also influencing the priorities for this year are the results of the member interviews and survey the association conducted in the fall of 2020, which indicated improvements needed in communicating with members.

“Members not understanding the work CAAR does on their behalf is a risk that should be addressed,” says board and executive council chair Theresa Bolton. “The work being done by CAAR is critical to the ag industry, but if members don’t hear about it, they can’t appreciate it. We need to communicate this better.”

Communications committee chair Martin Kiefer says that feedback confirms the work his committee started last year in conducting a major review of the association’s communications, and issuing an RFP for publishing and digital services.

The outcomes of this review and the responses to the survey have set the stage for work to do in 2021, which includes:

  • Completing the implementation of a customer relationship
  • management (CRM) system to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of communicating with members;
  • Redesigning the CAAR website to deliver a better user experience, focused on the core services members need;
  • Working with a new communications partner to continue building CAAR’s brand with members while extending their messaging beyond the membership base;
  • Continuing to promote CAAR’s services and support the goals set in the strategic plan.

“Last year we launched a number of initiatives that will have a long-term impact on the way we communicate with our members.” says Kiefer. “This year, we expect to start seeing the fruits of that labour and we are looking forward to the feedback from our members.”

Strategic Planning

Recognizing the significant changes forced on the industry due to COVID-19, the CAAR staff and board will be developing an updated strategic plan to identify the priorities for the next three to five years. Among the topics the plan is expected to cover are:

  • Continue advocating on behalf of the agriculture industry as an essential service that must be allowed to conduct business activities without disruption throughout the year;
  • Work with agriculture stakeholders to minimize the impact of the Government of Canada clean fuel standard;
  • Assess new carbon credit models and identify the role CAAR and ag retails can play supporting farmer revenue streams associated with carbon sequestering;
  • Identify and capitalize on solutions and investments in the most current technologies to increasing retail connectivity;
  • Develop and deliver new online training to ag retails;
  • Support agriculture recycling activities and advance the role of ag retailers in sustainability.

“I think we have all come to the conclusion that the ‘normal’ we’ve all been looking forward to returning will not be the ‘normal’ we remember,” says Rezansoff. “I think with some of the ways of doing things we’ve all been forced to adapt will remain because we’ve learned they are a better way of doing things.

“We’re looking forward to building a better association in 2021, putting what we’ve learned to work providing even greater value and representation of ag retailers and Canadian agriculture.”

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