This year's CAAR Conference features an exceptional lineup of speakers, all offering their own unique and knowledgeable insight into the changing ag sector. The Communicator spoke with two of our featured speakers to get a preview of what conference delegates can expect.

Kevin Hursh: Understanding Farmer Motivation
Wednesday, Feb. 15, 10:30 - 11:30 AM

A seasoned journalist, agrologist and farmer, Kevin Hursh is considered one of the country’s top agricultural commentators. At the 2017 CAAR Conference, he’ll be touching on major trends in today’s industry, such as the upcoming carbon tax, sustainability requirements of end-use customers and economic issues facing producers.

Farmers are facing an increasing array of pressures in today’s operating environment. Modern producers are expected to be experts in everything from tax law to herbicide rotation. Increasingly, they rely on professional advice. Agri-retailers need to establish themselves as trusted advisors.

“My aim is to be current and relevant,” says Hursh. “The carbon tax is certainly something that’s coming down the pipeline and something that farmer customers will be concerned about, talking about and wondering about. I have a few ideas of where some of this could land and make changes in the industry.”

Hursh will also be touching on sustainability drives and requirements by end-use customers, which he says are becoming more important in today’s industry. He’ll also be presenting on a range of economic issues that are currently facing producers.

“We’re going to be coming off a very poor quality crop in February during the conference,” he says. “A crop that’s overwintering and is probably tightening the farm economy. That will have ramifications about what farmers want for service, for products and their ability to use as many inputs as they previously have been.”

Jean-Philippe Gervais: The Economic Factors Driving Agriculture Today
Thursday, Feb. 16, 10:45 - 11:45 AM

Jean-Philippe Gervais, the chief agricultural economist at Farm Credit Canada, brings over 20 years of experience with him to the 2017 CAAR Conference. Gervais will give conference attendees professional insight into the agricultural value chain, looking at issues like productivity concerns, industry consolidation and rising demand for food and export regulations.

Today’s global landscape is evolving very fast, and industry consolidation is going to have a big impact on agri-retailers, says Gervais.
“What is available out there for businesses to rely on in terms of making their strategies and moving forward?” he asks. “I want to talk about the context, but I also want to identify a few things that I believe are going to have a major impact in 2017 and beyond.”

He poses the question, “What are the things you can monitor to give you a better idea of what to come up with in terms of business strategies?”

In an industry that is rapidly evolving and always ‘go, go, go’, Gervais says he suspects that the focus of conference attendees, no matter their title or position, is on their day-to-day operations.

“I want to take a step back and say – ag, at the end of the day, is an absolute global sector. You also need to spend some time on strategy, not just on the operational side of things: how do you evolve yourself and your business in the context of a changing landscape?”

Gervais says there’s a different answer for everybody, but there are factors that can tell agri-retailers what to look for.

Click here to read more about the 2017 CAAR Conference.

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