COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns, distancing, and cancelled learning events have had a profound impact on so many. Our food systems, food processing, and focus on local economy may be forever changed by this pandemic.

Marty Seymour, director of industry and stakeholder relations with Farm Credit Canada, joins our host Kara Oosterhuis for today’s LIVE! to talk about all that and more.

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SUMMARY

  • In 2021, will farm shows still be a thing? Seymour ran Agribition before he joined FCC. They’re coming back, he says!
  • We go to shows to learn, to see people, for the social aspect, but also to gain some intel
  • Participation in virtual meetings is great because everyone can join in, but unpacking someone’s thoughts happens at lunch or supper, or the social hour at a show, harder to do in a 60 minute virtual session
  • Food trends and COVID? We spent 2020 in crisis mode, retooling the food system. Choice of package sizing, e.g. canola oil. Seymour thinks we’ll see that kind of efficiency for a while. Restaurants taking choices away (in a good way) that in turn increased their efficiency
  • Buying local means “buy Canada.” It’s a market opportunity
  • “The table’s set really well for this country to grow domestic meat,” and use that marketing for economic recovery
  • The Prairies have a different conversation than B.C., Ontario, or Quebec. Western Canada’s protein sector is a Prairie-centric story
  • 2021 may see more outside money attracted into food processing
  • How do we share the Canadian food-processing story? We could do a better job celebrating our successes
  • How do we attract labour or talent that isn’t from an agriculture background? Rural jobs are a whole ball of wax on their own. But attracting young people that are just about to start their career, need to know that agriculture and agri-food careers are long-term. We’re always going to need people working in agriculture. Industry should invest more in recruitment
  • Seymour’s met a few people who have come to agriculture but aren’t from an agriculture background, and that’s their biggest advantage; fresh perspective
  • The language that we use is sometimes a barrier
  • Ag tech? “We need broadband internet.” Agriculture needs to leapfrog this and look at the software and digitizing the information we do have.
  • It’s what you do with the data after it’s collected that’s important
  • Simplifying and collaborating needs to happen in 2021, to come up with practical solutions
  • The Clean Fuel Standard, from a non-policy standpoint, Seymour sees that more conversation needs to happen on the pros and cons, economically speaking. Industry will spend the first half of the year analyzing the economics of it, and now is their chance to comment on it
  • The word sustainability is a challenge for each sector of the industry to define. This year’s term: regenerative
  • A near-term concern of Seymour’s? Logistics. Access of containers flowing to and from Asia, specifically
  • Anything made out of country will continue to be affected, or backlogged.
  • Parts travel by air freight. If it’s made off-shore, order it in advance.

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