Blog: The Wheat Sheaf

Farming Smarter Conference

The Farming Smarter conference in Medicine Hat during the first week of December was one of the most memorable events that I have been to this year. Besides the fantastic lineup of speakers, the Alberta Wheat Commission was a sponsor of farming smarter which meant we had a table at the tradeshow. Working at our table allowed me to meet and engage growers from the area, which is always a really valuable experience. Engagements like these are really important to AWC as they are some of the best opportunities we have throughout the year to chat face-to-face with our members.

I spent so much time at our table that I regret I missed many of the speakers. But I did manage to catch three speakers besides Kevin Auch, of course, (one of AWC’s directors in region 2) who gave an AWC update to the group.

As a well-groomed critic I made sure to catch Michael Shermer, founder of Skeptic magazine. He spoke about why people believe weird things – which would explain why my wife tolerates me – if I could believe him.

Dr. William Wilson from NDSU spoke on how the rail logistic system works in the US. He reported that they have had issues with grain shipments as well. I asked how he thought the expansion of the Panama Canal might impact the movement of grain by rail in the US. and Dr. Wilson said that although the capacity of the canal is expanding, the price is also increasing so it is not clear how it will impact grain movement by rail.

The third speaker I heard was Trish Sahlstom from A&W who tried to explain her company’s "Better Beef Campaign." She talked about the history of A&W and how they were on a downward skid until they abandoned drive-ins and started building restaurants and mall locations. She explained that they are in the business of selling hamburgers, and consumers indicated they were concerned about hormones and steroids in beef, so they were responding to customer demands. She also said that their campaign has been a great success, increasing the number of hamburgers sold. I don’t think she won over any converts from the ag community, but she received a warm round of applause regardless, in appreciation for trying to reach out us.

At the Alberta Wheat Commission we work hard to educate the public about food production and the safe, high quality food produced in Alberta and all across Canada. We strongly believe that the entire industry works best when we work together and that open and honest communication based on proven facts is the best way to ensure that Canadians and our foreign customers continue to enjoy reliable, affordable, safe and high quality food every day. I know that our friends at other commodity groups work just as hard to get out front on other issues using science and facts to move the entire industry forward. The Alberta Wheat Commission knows that food safety is a top priority for producers and consumers alike, and we are working hard to engage consumers to alleviate their concerns through provision of science-based facts and information. Our producers are good stewards of the land and use science to produce a safe, reliable food source.


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