New conference to replace special crops symposium

Canola, pulse, flax, sunflower and corn producers in Manitoba want to create a crop production show comparable to FarmTech in Alberta.

The province’s canola, pulse, flax and sunflower associations, along with the National Sunflower Association of Canada, announced a partnership in mid-June to host the first ever CropConnect Conference next February in Winnipeg.

The event will replace the Manitoba Special Crops Symposium, which was organized by the pulse, corn and sunflower grower associations.

“The groups that put on (that) symposium were approached by the canola (growers),” said Roxanne Lewko, executive director of the Manitoba Pulse Growers Association.

“It really started as a basic discussion around AGMs (annual general meetings). How to get growers to the AGM,” she said.

“Those discussions evolved into this big idea, why don’t we make our symposium even bigger and rebrand it.”

The Manitoba commodity groups decided to base their show on FarmTech, a crop production show organized by wheat, pulse, canola, barley and seed grower associations in Alberta.

“At FarmTech … they sell out every time. They have around 1,200 to 1,300 people there,” said Bill Ross, executive manager of Manitoba Canola Growers.

“It’s sort of going down that path, where the commodity groups work together to bring in speakers.”

However, co-operating to organize one sizable farm show doesn’t mean Manitoba commodity groups are planning to form one association, similar to Grain Farmers of Ontario.

This effort is about collaboration rather than amalgamation, Lewko said.

The five commodity groups will hold their annual meetings at the two-day event.

“We’re trying to create less clutter in a farmer’s calendar,” Lewko said.

“Bring them one high-value event that can replace several smaller ones.”

The first annual CropConnect Conference is scheduled to be held at the Victoria Inn Hotel in Winnipeg Feb. 18-19.

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