AFA’s Annual General Meeting explores the rapidly changing face of agriculture

Agriculture’s evolving landscape means that farm producers and ranchers need to be flexible and quick on their feet to manage change on the farm.

That’s why Alberta Federation of Agriculture (AFA) chose the theme Shifting Gears for their recent Annual General Meeting. Over two days in Red Deer, January 21 and 22, 2016, attendees at the AFA AGM heard about dynamic farm technology, climate change, production updates and the impact of Alberta’s farm safety legislation.

“Agriculture producers are accustomed to change and are very adept at shifting gears,” says AFA President Lynn Jacobson, who farms near Enchant. “This meeting gave our members a chance to see what’s on the horizon and offered innovative ways to meet those challenges.”

A series of expert speakers explored the issue of shifting gears from many angles:AFA-Rick McConnellRick McConnell from DYMAC Risk Management Solutions discussed new ways of assessing pasture production

AFA-Dr ErlerScientist Dr. Andre Erler with Aquanty Inc. presented observations on climate research in Western Canada

AFA-Shaun HaneyShaun Haney of RealAgriculture shared his insights into the digital age of farming by showcasing new farm technology like driverless tractors

AFA-David MyrolDavid Myrol with McLennan Ross LLP, an expert in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) law, explored the legal questions and facts surrounding Alberta’s farm labour legislation

AFA-Garth PattersonGarth Patterson with Western Grains Research Foundation spoke about agronomic capacity and funding for varietal research

AFA-Daryl BennettDaryl Bennett with Action Surface Rights looked at surface rental and the issue of abandoned wells on farms resulting from the downturn in the oil and gas industry

AFA-Markus WeberMarkus Weber with AgEagle featured drone technology and how it can be used for better profitability on the farm

AFA-Minister CarlierA highlight of the meeting was a provincial update provided by Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Hon. Oneil Carlier. Members had a chance to ask questions following the presentation, and discussions centered around actions for moving forward with the provincial farm safety and labour legislation.

AFA-Minister Carlier & QestionsMinister Carlier told the AFA delegates that the government is now focused on getting input on the legislation, adding, “We will take the time necessary to get this right.” He also thanked those in the room for their passion for the agriculture industry and the significant contribution farm producers make to the provincial economy.

In addition to speaker presentations on a wide variety of topics, the AGM is a time for AFA members to propose, debate and vote on resolutions dealing with issues that affect Alberta farm producers. Resolutions direct key priorities for AFA for the year ahead.

For 2016, AFA will continue its work on rail transportation costs, the development of a farm safety plan, ways to minimize waste in municipal areas, surface rental reimbursement for producers, plans for the Indian Head Shelterbelt Centre, commitment to varietal research and compensation to producers for carbon sequestering and trespasser damage.

Humphrey Banack, AFA’s 2nd Vice President who farms near Camrose, notes that the past year in agriculture put a spotlight on why it’s important for producers to be involved in policy decisions.

“In 2015, farmers saw tremendous change in agriculture and in politics,” says Banack. “I think producers have seen why understanding policy can be just as critical as knowing about production. As Alberta’s general farm organization, one of AFA’s areas of expertise is agricultural policy. We can speak to these issues on behalf of all producers to make sure their voices are heard.”

AFA’s President Jacobson agrees. “AFA deals with concerns that impact all farmers and ranchers in the province, not just issues that are commodity-specific,” he says. “We will be addressing the key concerns raised during this meeting with all levels of government to ensure a stronger agriculture industry for all.”

During the AGM, member-delegates re-confirmed the AFA executive team for another year with Lynn Jacobson as President, Keith Degenhardt as 1st Vice President and Humphrey Banack as 2nd Vice President.

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Together we are stronger! Join AFA and attend our AGM!

Meeting iStock_000017456397MediumOn January 20-22, 2016, AFA’s Board and Executive will join AFA members and guests in Red Deer, Alberta for the organization’s Annual General Meeting. AFA delegates will listen to expert speakers, plus debate and pass policy on a range of issues important to the agriculture sector.

We’re excited about the theme for this year’s AGM: Shifting Gears. AFA has invited industry leaders from across the country to speak about emerging technologies, the impact of climate change and new developments in farm labour and safety legislation.

Attendees will also get the opportunity to hear a provincial update from Hon. Oneil Carlier, Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, on January 22. The Minister will then participate in a bear pit session with Olds College agricultural students who are attending our AGM to gain first-hand knowledge of policy development.

Other speaker highlights from the AGM agenda include:

  • Lawyer Tom Ross will give a legal perspective on Alberta’s farm labour legislation
  • Scientist Dr. Andre Erler will present his observations on the climate system in western Canada
  • Shaun Haney from RealAgriculture will share his views on the digital age of farming
  • Markus Weber with AgEagle will feature drone technology and profitability on the farm
  • Rick McConnell, risk management expert, will cover innovations in pasture technology
  • Daryl Bennett will discuss surface rental issues in Alberta
  • Garth Patterson with Western Grains Research Foundation will speak about agronomic capacity

“We put together our list of presenters based on topics that would resonate with producers this year,” says AFA President Lynn Jacobson. “We feel our AGM should provide those attending with timely information.”

Why is it important to become a member and attend the AGM?

Agriculture is experiencing many changes: from technological advances to policy and government changes. Our AGM is a great place to hear about – and vote on – issues, policy and opportunities in agriculture for the coming year.

“AFA members come together to present resolutions on issues that matter to them,” says Jacobson. “The resolutions that are agreed to by vote are then passed along to policy makers in government and within our provincial and national agriculture organizations. When you become a member of our organization, you are truly part of that unified voice. “

“So often, we hear farmers are frustrated when they feel they aren’t being heard,” he says. “Here is one way to make sure your voice counts.”

Jacobson notes he would love to see more new members attend the AGM. AFA seeks new members of all ages and stages, even younger movers-and-shakers and those who are just developing in agriculture. Jacobson points to an article Lyndsey Smith wrote in that makes an eloquent case for why our industry needs 30-somethings to step up and get involved in policy and advocating for agriculture.

Become an AFA member today. Producers pay only $125 per year. Once you have your AFA membership, be sure to register and attend the AFA Annual General Meeting January 20-22, 2016 in Red Deer and be part of creating the resolutions that will be our top policy priorities for 2016.