Blog: The Wheat Sheaf

Director-at-Large Candidates

In September Alberta Wheat Commission put out a call for nominations for the Director-at-Large position and received three nomination forms on the deadline of December 15, 2015. The three candidates are: Kevin Bender from Bentley, Darrell Stokes from Hussar, and Jack Swainson from Red Deer, AB.

The Director-at-Large represents all five regions across Alberta and will provide strategic direction and leadership to the Commission on behalf of wheat producers.

All eligible producers will be given a ballot at this year’s Annual General Meeting to vote for the Director-at-Large position. An eligible producer is someone that has sold wheat and paid a service charge or check-off to the Commission when making a commercial sale of wheat in the last two fiscal years. The AGM will take place at 11:30 AM on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 in Edmonton, AB in Hall F at the Northlands Park, Edmonton Expo Centre. It is being held in conjunction with the FarmTech™ conference, but growers or members of the public wishing to attend the AGM and cast their vote do not have to be registered for the FarmTech™ conference. AGM attendees can proceed directly to Hall F.


Kevin Bender

Box 614 Bentley, AB
c. 403-350-4949

In addition to farming full-time with his father and brother in the Sylvan Lake-Bentley area, over the years, Kevin has contributed significant time serving on various boards and commissions. Kevin was a United Grain Growers delegate, director with the Alberta Canola Producers Commission for six years, and is a past president and current director of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association. He has just completed one three year term on the Board of Directors of Alberta Wheat Commission and Cereals Canada.

He describes his participation on these boards as life changing, with those experiences teaching him how to prioritize and balance his time. During his time on those boards he learned a tremendous amount, met great people and established many friendships as a result. Kevin’s background and experience also include a Bachelor of Religion degree from Taylor seminary.

Eager to learn, Kevin enjoys being involved in research and marketing, and developing policy that makes agriculture a better business to be in. With a passion for wanting to see the industry improve, Kevin sees communication and collaboration – among organizations and across all borders (provincial, national, international) – as the approach that is in the best interest of all growers.

Although he enjoys farming and being involved in the agriculture industry, Kevin highly values spending time with his wife Sara and five children. He is also involved in his church in various capacities as well as a Board Member of his church camp.

Darrell Stokes

Box 125
Hussar AB
c. .934.0333

My wife, son and I run a small mixed grain farm in South-Central Alberta near the town of Hussar. I am running for Director-at-Large position on the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) Board to support the interests of all farmers, particularly wheat farmers in Alberta. I will bring a unique perspective to the role as Director-at-Large with AWC, as I have worked in the interests of collective marketing for the last few years.

I support a realistic return on farmers risk and investment, public plant breeding and farm-saved seed, transparency in the grain trade, including the price at port, accountability to the farmers who pay the levy and the introduction of new varieties only when they align with market acceptance.

Alberta Wheat Commission is supposed to be “the farmer’s voice” but when I have attended meetings, I don’t see enough farmers. In my travels, I see many farmers in their 40’s and 50’s who are disillusioned, uncertain of the future, unsure if they should continue, and maybe getting out while land prices are high.

As much as I love to farm, and am proud one of my sons is farming with us, I see many challenges ahead. If I want to buy a beer at a Flames or Oilers game, I need to bring a 90 lb sack of $6 wheat to pay for it. How can we look at that situation and think all is good?

I would like this commission to do more to stimulate enthusiasm among farmers, to grow food for the world, be good stewards of their land, and make a decent return on their risk and investment. In particular we need young farmers to participate, to engage them, bring them into the conversation, and make them want to attend meetings because they have something to contribute, and most importantly, we need to listen to them.

We need new ideas to carry us forward. We need new questions. We need a realistic dialogue on the current state of the farming business we all love. Let’s advocate for farmers. Young people have great enthusiasm and ideas so let’s get more of them into this discussion. I think I can help with that.

Jack Swainson

Site 22, Box 9 RR#1
Red Deer, AB
c. 403-350-7588

Jack was born into, raised on, and continues to operate a third generation farm 20 km west of Red Deer. He has a lifetime of farming experience and has been in a predominately zero-till mode for the last 18 years, growing cereals, pulses, oilseeds and forages in his rotations. Jack is married to Jacquie and they have two adult children and six grandsons.

Over the years, Jack has been active in many farm organizations, co-operatives, commissions, and community orientated initiatives. He has learned to manage his time so he can enjoy his family, his dogs, shooting sports, and appreciate farm life in beautiful and serene rural Alberta.

he following are some of the relevant experiences and involvements he draws from: Alberta Winter Wheat Producers Commission (2006-2012), Industry Co-chair of the Agri-Environmental Partnership of Alberta (AEPA), past board member and President of the Alberta Conservation Tillage Society (ACTS), founding member of the Alberta Reduced Tillage Initiative (ARTI) and subsequently the Reduced Tillage Linkages (RTL), long term delegate to the UFA Co-op, Member of the Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC) and a participant in their Soil Health 2020 program.

Jack would like to be more involved in the vibrant and proactive Alberta Wheat Commission. He feels he has more contributions to make to the farming industry and has a solid background of involvement and practical experience to call on. Environmental issues, stewardship, sustainability, member communications, and improved market access are areas of interest for Jack. These, coupled with a need to explain and promote the concept of social license and its impact on producers is paramount in his mind.

He would attempt to reduce the number of check-off refund through an outreach initiative dedicated to those producers who request refunds. Jack is a winter wheat grower and knows we need to encourage more producers to experience the many benefits of this great rotational crop.

Jack will have the time required to devote to the position of Director-at-Large and realizes this means “representing the interests and perspectives of wheat growers across the province.” He has traveled the province extensively and has a good working knowledge of all five regions represented by Alberta Wheat Commission.

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