Action and amalgamation: 5 highlights of CropConnect '20

Opinion

The last of the major Prairie crop conferences — the CropConnect Conference — was held at Winnipeg, Man., this week, with a sold-out crowd braving some quintessential Manitoba farm show season weather to hear from several dozen speakers, and discuss opportunities and plans for 2020. Here are some of the takeaways from the two-day event:

  1. Action ASAP: Carbon tax, BRM, and blockades

    • Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau made an appearance at the start of the two-day conference, but it’s clear farmers are still frustrated with the lack of action that’s coming from the federal agriculture minister. On top of the stalling on addressing problems with the carbon tax and business risk management programs, farmers have had to deal with yet another disruption this week: rail lines slowed down or shut down due to protests. They certainly didn’t ‘hoot and holler’ at the minister, but many felt the $1.2 million announcement for two grain projects was very underwhelming in the context of these challenges and the support U.S. farmers are receiving from their government.
  2. Buzzword: Amalgamation

    • The five commodity groups representing Manitoban sunflower, winter cereals, wheat, barley, and corn growers were the talk of the town. After each AGM, you could see people continue the conversation in the hallways with whoever they were sitting beside or to those that couldn’t make the meeting. Given the two-thirds approval needed from each group, we weren’t sure what the result would be, but in the end the vote to approve the merger wasn’t even close and amalgamation will move forward.
  3. Hot topic: Rural crime

    • There was only a handful of seats open at RCMP Corporal Graeme Kingdon’s talk about rural crime. It’s likely those seats weren’t full due to people not starting to sit in the middle of the row, and then fan out from there (it’s a conference etiquette pet peeve of mine) or rather some just prefer to stand. Regardless, the room was packed to hear about what’s been happening in and around the province. In my opinion, I think the next rural crime session should just be a Q & A. Many were left at the end asking Corporal Kingdon questions that I’m sure most would want to hear the answer to.
  4. A conference must: Networking

    • I can’t say it enough for how important these breaks are. Session rooms get stuffy, winter in the Prairies (especially Winnipeg) is drier than a good red wine, and people travel from all over the province to see old and make new friends. Bevies and treats never go unnoticed, and the timing of the breaks are superb — not too long, but not too short that one would have to grab a cookie and run to the next session.
  5. Delicious: Oat beer

    • First off, you may already know this… but Canada knows how to grow oats. Almost all of it comes from the Prairies. And what’s better than oatmeal, granola bars, or an additive to meatballs? Beer.
      At the end of the Prairie Oat Growers meeting, they served oat beer, and if you were lucky to be there you got a taste of  the Rainy Lake oat beer by Lake of the Woods Brewing Company. Light on the tongue with a smooth after taste — they’ll have me supporting the oat industry even more now. ( P.S. To the gents who grabbed some brews at 10am on a Wednesday, I raise my glass of oat beer to you!)

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