2017 marks Canada’s 150th birthday! To celebrate this occasion the International Agriculture and Agri-food Committee of the Calgary Stampede (IAC) has created the IAC Canada 150 Reflections Project. We have asked industry leaders who offer a wealth of experience and insights across a broad range of industries to share their thoughts and perspectives on what has been the biggest advancement in the agriculture/agri-food industry.
From major restaurant chains to local producers, here are some of those reflections.
David Farran, President – Eau Claire Distillery
For many years, agriculture has been viewed as a commodity. The national quota and marketing systems disconnected the consumer from the farmer. In recent years, with the demise of the wheat board and the beginnings of brand development such as ‘Alberta beef’ or ‘Alberta Barley’, we can start to differentiate quality, develop a sense of Alberta ‘terroir’ and we can market ourselves as world class producers. This is good for the relationship between the producer and the consumer, where consumers can trust the value chain and farmers can start to see higher prices by developing targeted, niche products. The greatest advance for agriculture in recent years is a new free market – a driver of innovation.
Mo Jessa, President – Earls Kitchen and Bar
At Earls, recent lessons have taught us how much our customers value a relationship between the people that grow their food and the people that make it. And there is enormous pride in local farmers and ranchers. We believe restaurateurs should continually strive to build and foster these relationships. Customers also crave authenticity and transparency. The origin and quality of the ingredients they eat matters more than ever. The future of food is brighter when chefs and farmers come together.
Antoinette Benoit, CMO, McDonald’s Canada
We are passionate about the strength and quality of the many thousands of people without whom we would not be able to operate: those working every day in our Canadian agriculture sector. These men and women are our neighbours and are the foundation upon which this country is built, just as they are the foundation upon which McDonald’s Canada is built. They work tirelessly every day to grow the food we serve. Without them, there would be no us.
Crystal Mackay, CEO – Farm & Food Care
The biggest advancement I see is the connections being made across value chains through to consumers to earn trust in our food system. Supply chains were built for competition, not collaboration, and this shift to collective investments is a new frontier. We are moving to a time when progress is merely possible, but no longer inevitable, coinciding with a shift to masses of communicators and countless conversations about food every minute. It’s exciting to see farmers investing time and money together with many others including the biggest food companies to meet the new demands for transparency.
Simone Demers Collins, Education, Marketing, Promotion – Alberta Canola Producers Commission
I believe that in the past 150 years, the Canadian agriculture and food industry has demonstrated its ability to be innovative, resilient, and progressive in meeting the challenges of rural communities, urban consumer wants, globalization, climate and political changes. But even more important, is a pride in what they are doing being demonstrated by today’s farmers, and the responsibility that these same farmers have accepted to speak openly and knowledgeably about how they grow the food that we all need to live.
The full 150 can be found by following us on Twitter: @stampedeIAC, and Facebook: Calgary Stampede International Agriculture & Agri-Food committee