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:Rick McConnell from DYMAC Risk Management Solutions discussed new ways of assessing pasture production
Scientist Dr. Andre Erler with Aquanty Inc. presented observations on climate research in Western Canada
Shaun Haney of RealAgriculture shared his insights into the digital age of farming by showcasing new farm technology like driverless tractors
David 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
Garth Patterson with Western Grains Research Foundation spoke about agronomic capacity and funding for varietal research
Daryl 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
Markus Weber with AgEagle featured drone technology and how it can be used for better profitability on the farm
A 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.
Minister 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.
For more information on AFA, visit our website at: www.afaonline.ca.