A look behind-the-scenes of joining a commodity board

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As the calendar turns to November, many are making plans for the winter months.

Although the list of things to do in the winter can be just as extensive as the summer for many areas of agriculture, professional development is a focus for the winter months.

Rob Stone, of Davidson, Sask., is one of those farmers. Amongst a myriad of things, one of the options he chose for learning and development was joining a board. Stone chose to run for the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission — which he was elected to in December of 2021.

Coming up on his first full year as a member, there certainly have been lessons learned, along with some surprises. To Stone, it was a crash course in governance — with an inside look on what is going on in Canadian agriculture.

“It’s a real time commitment, and there’s a lot of rewarding things happening with it. It’s great to be a part of research, advocacy, and agronomy that goes on within the organization,” he explains.

There’s no shortage of changes going on in agriculture, which is exactly what drove Stone to join a commodity board.

“With all the issues that we’ve got going on around that affect my farm, my neighbours farm, and everybody that I visit with in agriculture, I felt like I would try and help out where I can. So whether it’s on the research side of things, dealing with some of the issues that are going on now with emissions and all those sorts of things, and dealing with some advocacy by being able to communicate with officials and those sorts of things to try to bring some common sense,” says Stone. “I felt I was hopefully able to bring some of those skills forward and well represent farmers in the process and hopefully well spend their checkoff money dollars.”

As with many aspects of our lives, preconceived notions of what something may or may not be like limit us. For Stone, some of the surprises he experienced first-hand once he took the leap to join, was an inside look into what goes into operating. The logistics, and staff requirements to carry out the day-to-day operations of a commission. (Story continues below interview)

“It’s really nice to be surrounded by people that really know what they’re doing. When you show up as a newly minted, newly elected person, there’s just so much going on,” he says. “One of the things I realized is that there’s just so much action happening there all the time that you don’t have to know everything, and there is somebody that is handling it.

The other surprise for Stone, was how much goes on behind-the-scenes when it comes to agreements with groups such as the Crop Development Centre.

“There’s a lot of cooperation between commissions and in-between commodities. It’s that kind of stuff that we like to see in the rest of community of agriculture, is that everyone seems very focused on the goal of making agriculture successful, with a focus of cost improvement in western Canada.

As far as bodies needed to fill seats, Stone says there should always be more interested, but the amount of people making the step is increasing. Especially as people realize that by getting involved, they’re able to drum up interest in things they are working on, and issues that impact their own farm.

Related:

“Six years flew by in a hurry”: An Alberta Canola reflection with John Guelly

One voice can make change, but unified voices do more: A perspective from Jeff Nielsen

The Successors, Ep 3: Getting involved with a board, finding your place, and enjoying a good family dinner

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