CAAR’s accomplishments last year brought positive benefits to agri-retailers.
The CAAR staff, board and committee members worked hard throughout 2016 to continue to deliver our promise to members – to work tirelessly to advance and defend Canadian agri-retail.
“Defending and empowering the agri-retail industry is a personal cause for me, and I am grateful to be surrounded by exceptionally capable staff and directors who share that vision, and challenge us to excel,” says Delaney Ross Burtnack, president and CEO of CAAR in the 2016 Annual Report.
“Progress can be challenging to measure, but with every step we take to strengthen our foundation of long-standing members, and with every new member we welcome into the fold, we build understanding, responsiveness and stability to weather the storms facing agri-retailers,” she says.
CAAR’s Advocacy Work
Advocacy is one of the core pledges in CAAR’s mandate, and in 2016 the association was involved in drafting a number of key regulations, making sure the collective voice of membership was heard and heeded.
“We had many advocacy successes in 2016, and we were able to create changes with positive impacts on the day-to-day operations of our members,” says Burtnack. “We’re happy to have been able to provide such a high level of support to members through our advocacy.”
CAAR worked closely with Fertilizer Canada and agri-retailers over the past year to develop a new release of the Ammonia Code of Practice.
“After receiving detailed feedback on the proposed changes to the Code, CAAR saw the need to improve representation of agri-retailers on the Fertilizer Safety and Security Council, and the Ammonia Code Technical Committee,” says Burtnack. After significant discussions on areas CAAR and its members flagged as concerns, CAAR joined the supporters of the new version of the Code, which came into effect Jan. 1, 2017.
We had many advocacy successes in 2016, and we were able to create changes with positive impacts on the day-to-day operations of our members.
Wherever possible, CAAR encourages members to share their views and ideas on issues that affect them so the association can ensure it is representing the collective voice of the industry. Member feedback was crucial during collaborations with industry counterparts to develop a response to proposed text for the revised Environmental Emergency Regulations.
The revisions were published in the Canada Gazette, Part 1 on Oct. 8, 2016, and contain new reporting requirements, including required communications with the public and a new specification to exercise at least one component of the plan every year, with the full plan exercised every five years.
In Manitoba, CAAR worked in the fall with an advisory team that included Keystone Agricultural Producers to successfully secure three extensions to the provincial nutrient application deadline, giving agri-retailers and producers an extra 12 days to apply fall fertilizer.
Weather and soil conditions created significant challenges for fall fertilizer application and CAAR kept in daily contact with Manitoba members to inform Manitoba Sustainable Development of the changing field conditions and progress of applications.
Changes to regulations can also mean changes to the way agri-retailers do business, and up-to-date training and training materials are essential for compliance and workplace safety. The association updated its training materials and templates to reflect new reporting requirements from Transport Canada under Part 8 of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations, which came into effect Dec. 1, 2016. CAAR shared the changes with agri-retailers to keep them up-to-date on the new requirements.
The proposed changes to the nurse tank testing cycle laid out in the 2014 version of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) is an issue of concern that the association worked on over the past year and will continue to work on in 2017.
The position of membership is that the B620 and B622 standards that govern anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks will have a negative impact on the retail industry. CAAR collaborated with Fertilizer Canada and industry members to prepare a docket for presentation at the CSA B620 Committee Meeting in January 2017 to share its concerns about how agri-retailers would be affected by the changes.
Many of the successes CAAR had with advocacy over the past year was the result of working in partnership with other industry organizations, understanding that the mutual benefits of working together are greater than what we could achieve separately.
CAAR collaborated with the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association (CSGA) for the first time to launch a new course, Investing in Certified Seed, designed to help certified seed retailers enhance their skills.
“CSGA created the course content and they turned to CAAR for the delivery method,” says Burtnack. “We are proud to grow in this new area beyond what we’ve done in the past, and forge this new partnership for the same greater good we are always striving to serve.”
To help address the growing shortage of labour in the agri-retail sector, CAAR also worked with the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council in 2016 to pilot a job board tool that would help match job seekers to agri-retail careers. The tool complements the Operation Ag Careers outreach program, and the association worked closely with program sponsors Richardson International, Federated Cooperatives Ltd., and Parrish & Heimbecker, as well as an agri-retail advisory group to develop the program.
MacMor Industries Ltd. renewed and expanded their participation in the CAAR Perk$ program, offering discounted pricing on all MacMor stock to CAAR members.
“In the past, our partnership was quite specific to the safe handling of ammonia,” says Burtnack. “But through our meetings this year, we dove deeper into learning about the full range of services that MacMor offers. We encourage our members to choose MacMor. They have services to ensure everything in your yard is working properly, working to the best of its capacity and keeping you safe.”
MacMor is a distributor of industrial, safety and rigging products, with locations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Operation Ag Careers
Last summer marked the first hire in the ag industry as a result of Operation Ag Careers. Neal Renwick joined Parrish & Heimbecker in June as a facility assistant at their Hanover Junction location. With the help of Operation Ag Careers, Neal will now be applying military skills and experience in a new and rewarding industry.
“Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members bring invaluable skills that are easily adaptable to our business,” says Martin Kiefer, chair of the CAAR Board of Directors. “Finding good people to work in agriculture is a full-time concern for most of our members.”
CAAR also expanded the outreach activities of Operation Ag Careers and is now a regular presenter at the Second Career Assistance Network, which offers events to over 120 transitioning military members in Winnipeg. In the fall, CAAR exhibited at the Military Families Resource Centre career fair in Winnipeg for the first time.
“We want to ensure CAF members are aware of the many opportunities in agriculture, and that we would be happy to have them on board,” says Kiefer.
CAAR also supported two military specific events in 2016: The Yellow Ribbon Gala in Winnipeg, a fundraising event in support of military families; and the Bravo Zulu dinner in Ottawa, in support of Forces@WORK, an initiative to help transitioning ill and injured CAF members and veterans find rewarding second careers.
An important part of keeping up-to-date with industry advancements and issues is making sure CAAR and agri-retailers are represented at the numerous events, meetings and sessions that take place throughout the year.
“All the events we attend, we attend to bring the interests of agri-retailers to the table,” says Burtnack. “In some cases, we may be the only group representing the agri-retail sector, so it is crucial for us to be there, and to make sure the best interests of our members are being represented and considered.”
CAAR attended the Agricultural Institute of Canada’s annual conference, where CAAR was the only representative from the agri-retail sector, and advocated for agri-retailers to be included in the national agriculture research audience.
While there, CAAR shared the perspective that agri-retailers should be a part of the audience that receives national research as it becomes available, because retailers are a trusted source of knowledge for farmers.
Pesticides with limited acceptance outside of Canada are an ongoing issue that creates challenges for retailers and producers, and in November, CAAR attended the first Maximum Residue Limits Steering Committee. This national steering committee has several retailer members, with the goal of creating a national policy to manage pesticides with limited international acceptance. CAAR encourages retailers to keep this issue in mind as they prepare for next season.
One of the biggest issues facing the ag industry is declining public trust in agriculture. CAAR attended several events focused on this issue in 2016. We joined numerous other stakeholders from across the value chain for the Public Trust Forum in October 2016 to explore the issue and discuss ways to communicate the good work and sustainable values of the agriculture industry to the public.
One way CAAR worked to promote the sustainable values of the ag industry was through continued participation in the Canadian Field Print Initiative. The initiative developed a sustainability measurement tool for Canadian crop production. The initiative’s goal is to use the information they gather to provide those who work in the ag industry with science-based facts to respond positively to questions of sustainability.
CAAR also attended its first meeting for the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops (CRSC). Over the course of two CRSC meetings, CAAR sought ways to expand retailer awareness and participation in this important sustainability think-tank, which seeks to develop a unified, proactive approach to grain sustainability in Canada.
CAAR participated in more than 30 industry events, regulatory consultations and committee meetings in 2016 on behalf of agri-retailers. The association’s ability to actively share the retail perspective and defend their values at these events is made possible by the generous support of CAAR members through CAAR Pro-Ag Investments.
CAAR Pro-Ag Investments supports a diverse range of initiatives designed to enhance and strengthen the Canadian agriculture industry, and the CAAR Pro-Ag Investments Auction is the association’s most important fundraiser. Held in conjunction with the CAAR Conference, last year’s auction was highly successful, raising nearly $85,000 to support the many ongoing initiatives at CAAR.
The CAAR Conference
One of the highlights of the year for CAAR is bringing together members of the agri-retail sector, purchasing decision makers, industry suppliers and a panel of business professionals for three days of networking, learning and collaboration at the only national, annual event of its kind — the CAAR Conference.
Saskatoon played host to the 2016 CAAR Conference in February. The conference theme — Unlock Your Potential — focused on identifying and overcoming the limiting factors for retailers and their businesses.
Burtnack says it was the first year the conference had a series of speakers that were specifically selected to share information and experiences to help members manage their retail locations.
“Our 2016 Conference was an immensely successful event. We had very positive feedback, and we’re looking to grow that momentum from last year and carry it forward to the 2017 conference in Banff,” she says. “It’ s going to be the retailer event of the year. Everything about the conference will be retailer-driven.”
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