Focusing on strategic objectives drove the association forward in 2019. 

By all accounts, 2019 was a trying year for Canadian agriculture. Between trade barriers, extreme weather and drought, and a seemingly endless harvest, no one along the value chain was immune from adversity. Though it was difficult to see the industry struggle, Mitch Rezansoff, CAAR’s executive director, says that the industry’s collective strength was also on display.

There are some very strong, capable people throughout the entire industry that find ways to make things work.
Mitch Rezansoff

“It’s been a year of challenges for agriculture as a whole, but there are some very strong, capable people throughout the entire industry that find ways to make things work,” says Rezansoff. “I think it demonstrates the flexibility and resiliency of the industry, and the challenges that agriculture faces and how we continue to move forward.”

Even in the face of a difficult year for the industry, CAAR stayed the course and continued to move forward, guided by its long-term strategy. This three-to-five year plan, the result of an intensive, multi-day strategic planning session in 2018, provided focus for CAAR’s activities throughout 2019 in the areas of Advocacy, Business Intelligence, Membership and Member Value, and Sustainability of the Business.

ADVOCACY 

Providing a Strong Voice for the Industry
In the spring, CAAR was pleased with the confirmation from Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) that neonics pose no threat to bees and other pollinators when used in accordance with the product’s label directions, and neonic seed treatments could continue to be used to fight early season insect pressure.

In 2018, CAAR was among numerous industry groups that responded to the proposed ban, providing input to the government on the effects that a ban of neonic seed treatments could have on retailers, farmers and the environment. As well, CAAR encouraged members to submit their own comments that echoed the stance of the industry.

Supporting Members
Once again, CAAR was successful in obtaining an Equivalency Certificate SH 11960.2 from Transport Canada. The certificate provides certain variances from the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) B622 Standard related to pressure testing of nurse and application tanks and is available exclusively to CAAR members that handle, offer for transport or transport anhydrous ammonia. The certificate authorizes members of CAAR and their clients to pressure test their applicator tanks and nurse wagons every five years instead of every three years as prescribed in the CSA B620-14 Standard.

BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE

Preparing for the Future
Last year, CAAR embarked on its first major undertaking toward developing one of its key strategic pillars, Business Intelligence, by helping to facilitate the 2019 Canadian Precision Agriculture Dealership Survey conducted by the University of Guelph (U of G).

The survey, which was adapted to include Western Canada for the first time from previous versions that focused on the U.S. and Ontario, aimed to capture a clear snapshot of the state of precision agriculture services among Canadian ag retailers. By leveraging their relationship with CAAR, the team at U of G was able to optimize the survey’s content and reach.

Sean Mitchell, a Chancellors’ Scholar Research Assistant in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Guelph, will be presenting the results of the 2019 Canadian Precision Agriculture Dealership Survey at the 2020 CAAR Conference. If you are unable to attend Mitchell’s presentation, watch for the findings of the survey in a future issue of The Communicator.

Recognizing Opportunity
CAAR joined AgGateway as an associate member in the spring of 2019, after recognizing the relevance of its activities – promoting and enabling the industry’s transition to digital agriculture – to its members. Rezansoff believes that all CAAR members, regardless of their size, can save valuable time and resources by utilizing the standards, and the connectivity capability of the standards, developed by AgGateway.

Retailers who want to learn more about the work of AgGateway will have the opportunity to do so in person at the 2020 CAAR Conference in Saskatoon. Representatives from AgGateway will be participating in a panel discussion along with retailers and suppliers from across North America who have implemented AgGateway systems in their own retails.

MEMBERSHIP

Delivering Perks
The CAAR Perk$ Program expanded its offering in late 2019 with the signing of a new Perk$ program partner. CAAR Members now have access to 10 discounted products and services, including the program’s latest addition – AED Advantage.

Through the Perk$ program, CAAR members can equip their locations with AED Advantage’s life-saving technology at a healthy discount and demonstrate their commitment to safety for their staff and customers who frequently perform physically demanding tasks in a high-stress industry.

Guiding the Association
In October, CAAR welcomed two new, independent-retailer representatives to the board of directors – Mike Gaumont of McEwen’s Fuels & Fertilizers and Stu Rasmussen of Blair’s Family of Companies. Gaumont and Rasmussen’s appointments to the board demonstrate CAAR’s commitment to ensuring that agri-retailers are the majority group represented on the board, as it works to guide the association’s activities.

Focusing on Member Value
Toward the end of the year, the Membership Value Committee did a full review of current membership fees and worked to create a new fee structure. According to committee chair Drew Taylor, the new membership fees are better aligned with both modern retail businesses and industry associations and have been carefully considered to retain membership and increase industry participation. Watch for details of the new fee structure later this year.

SUSTAINABILITY OF THE BUSINESS

Building Strength
Just days before the 2019 Conference, CAAR welcomed Scott Van Alstyne to the team in the role of sales and marketing manager. The position evolved from the director of member services position, following CAAR’s internal restructuring in the last six months of 2018.

In addition to providing value to existing members and recruiting new members to build on CAAR’s strength as a unified voice for ag retail, Van Alstyne’s role carries responsibilities relating to communications, publications, training, conference, sponsorship and advocacy.

Improving Efficiency
In late 2019, the CAAR team moved to a new location in downtown Winnipeg. The more efficient office space will allow the team to better serve its membership on a day-to-day basis, while contributing to the long-term sustainability of the association.

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