As more than 100 eager farmers were forced to stand at the back and line the walls of a packed hall, craning their heads to see a speaker, it was easy to conclude that today’s farmers are full of energy and optimism about the future.
Throughout the meeting halls and across the trade show floor, this week’s CropConnect conference buzzed with excitement as swarms of farmers followed their interests in the various crops of southern Manitoba.
It was a show that threw a spotlight on Canadian agriculture, an economic sector suddenly seeming hot in the wake of an Advisory Council on Economic Growth report pegging the sector as possibly Canada’s best bet for boosting the nation’s trading weight.
Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay speaking to a small crowd. | Ed White photo
CropConnect is an event that brings together an expanding list of crops and producer organizations.
The event drew federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, who along with Manitoba Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler, spoke to farmers and toured the trade show, revealing a close collegiality that has not always been obvious in federal-provincial agricultural relations in the last decade.
There was lots of chatter about amalgamating or somehow merging some of Manitoba’s dozen crop organizations. Leaders of crops such as corn and sunflowers were looking for ways to combine resources to do more for farmers with the checkoff money they receive.
The overcapacity crowd for an American soybean expert session revealed the love Manitoba farmers have for the new-to-Manitoba crop. Soybeans have increased from virtually zero acreage in the early 2000s to more than one million today, to projections of three million acres in the future.
While the event hosts the annual meetings of Manitoba Canola Growers Association and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association, the main spotlight remains on special crops and soybeans, the event’s original focus.
That agenda has seemed to attract young farmers and CropConnect has a noticeably younger population of attendees that most farm shows.