Farmers today, no matter what they are producing, belong to or support a number of agriculture associations and organizations. These industry groups are working on your behalf and as a farmer, you are better off because of their work. However, I am likely biased on this assessment. When does it become too much? Does Canadian agriculture really need all these organizations?
These are valid questions for farmers to ask. Let me answer these questions from the perspective of one of the new kids on the block, Cereals Canada.
Cereals Canada is a national organization that invests both producer and company funds. So how do these investments directly benefit your farm?
The cereals sector in Canada is currently undergoing a time of transition. In Western Canada the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) traditionally filled the role of industry coordinator for market development and research initiatives. The end of the CWB’s marketing monopoly has resulted in gaps in industry coordination, and Cereals Canada was created to fill these gaps and to coordinate efforts across the entire country.
Cereals Canada provides an opportunity for the industry as a whole to guide the growth and development of Canadian cereals research, market outreach and customer support. Our goal is to ensure a profitable and vibrant future for all links in the cereal value chain.
Words like “value chain” are often used as catch phrases that don’t really have a lot of meaning. So what do we mean by value chain? You are a critical part of the cereals value chain. Farmers make up 1/3 of the membership of Cereals Canada’s Board of Directors that has representation from producer organizations, grain handling, export and processing firms, and crop development and seed companies.
This representation from all of our member groups is both deliberate and important. Everyone involved in growing and marketing cereal grains are better off when the industry works together on common goals.
The alternative is each sector retreating to their individual silos and viewing everyone else as a competitor. That approach will quickly lead to duplication, wasted efforts and investment flowing to other commodities and other countries.
In the past, issues in the Canadian cereals sector have become politicized with strong irrevocable positions taken by the various “sides” during the debate of the day. This has not always served the best interest of the value chain as a whole. It is Cereals Canada’s goal to help lead the industry away from the politicization of industry direction and focus on solutions that will maximize the sector’s competitive advantages in both the domestic and international markets. Getting everyone involved in the industry and sitting around one table is a critical step to ensure we remain focused on markets and not on politics.
Cereals Canada has also been established to coordinate market development and innovation efforts. One of the first steps is to develop a clearer understanding of the quality characteristics that will draw a premium from the market and what customers are willing to pay that premium.
It is these quality characteristics that are demanded by our customers that should be the primary focus for both market development and research. It is the goal of Cereals Canada to help build that bridge between market development and innovation.
Canada has a strong reputation for high-quality products in the international marketplace. This time of transition in the cereals sector presents an opportunity to build on the Canadian brand in both international and domestic markets.
Taking advantage of these marketing opportunities will increase the value of Canadian cereals for farmers, grain marketers and crop development companies, while delivering strong value to our customers.
That is the ultimate goal for Cereals Canada – ensure that cereal grains are profitable for all involved. I want to see farmers choose to grow cereals because of strong profit margins. I want to see investment in innovation flow into Canada and our cereals industry because of a strong return on this investment. I want to see our customers coming back year after year because Canada consistently delivers what they want. This is how success for Cereals Canada will be measured.