Six to be inducted into Sask. Ag Hall of Fame

New members represent irrigation, animal health, value-added processing, research and building public trust

Six agricultural leaders are expected to be inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame April 27.

This year’s group of inductees represents primary agriculture, irrigation, animal health, value-added processing, agricultural research and building public trust.

“They’re a really strong group and a very diverse group, which speaks to agriculture in Saskatchewan,” said Reed Andrew, president of the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame.

“I think the inductees, right from the politics of agriculture to the actual production of it, is represented this year.”

A few months shy of his 99th birthday, Clarence Hookenson from Kisbey is the senior member for this year’s crop of inductees.

Hookenson spent 49 years in elected public office. He is a former reeve of the Rural Municipality of Brock and served on several boards, including Municipal Hail, Saskatchewan Federation of Agriculture and Saskatchewan Agriculture Hall of Fame.

The rancher produced prize-winning animals and also established a reputation for judging cattle — regarded for being able to consistently spot the best cattle at shows across Canada.

Always a strong advocate of 4-H, Hookenson was elected president of the new 4-H council for Arcola-Kisbey in 1939.

“It’s the best movement that ever started in this country…. It made good citizens out of the people,” he said.

Chantelle Donahue of Biggar has been a leader in building public trust in Canada’s food system for about eight years.

The grain farmer and vice-president of Cargill has helped to build and improve supply chains and add value to all in the chain.

“A big piece of the journey has been bringing people together across all the value chains to really figure out, how do we tell that good news story and how do we do the right thing on farms because nowadays everybody is exceptionally interested in food,” she said.

“The past and today will inform the future, but absolutely we can’t stay static. We also need to be comfortable as producers of food, from raw production right through to the value-added, to tell our story so that it makes sense to those that are buying that food.”

Roger Pederson has been a strong advocate for moving irrigation to the forefront of agriculture in the province as a member of the Canada-Saskatchewan Irrigation Diversification Centre in Outlook and the Saskatchewan Irrigation Projects Association.

The irrigation farmer has championed the economic advantages for growers and the province’s agri­food sector.

“We always look to Alberta and their 1.5 million acres of irrigation and forget to realize that we have the potential for two million acres of irrigation in Saskatchewan; 800,000 acres could be easily irrigated out of Lake Diefenbaker, but there could be projects in all of the provinces to add another million acres of irrigation,” he said.

“It’s not an expense; it’s an investment for the future.”

Arnold Petracek from Esterhazy served on the Saskatchewan Municipal Hail Insurance Association board of directors from 1975 until his retirement in 2015.

During that time, he was also involved in local government as councillor and later reeve of the Rural Municipality of Fertile Belt, as well as a director with the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame.

He worked as an agronomist before taking over the family farm at Esterhazy in 1973 and later set up AJ Seeds.

“I’ve had many jobs and got involved in many of the boards in agriculture,” he said.

As a veterinarian since 1982, Neil Shantz has promoted Saskatchewan pork industry’s efforts to enhance on-farm food safety, animal welfare and biosecurity.

In 1984, he set up a large-animal practice specializing in swine and dairy cattle, while also developing a swine and dairy consultancy focusing on the preventive aspects of health management.

“As the farms grew, the owners were often managing and had left the actual barns themselves. So they needed somebody helping them to learn the human resources side, the nutrition side, the ventilation and barn design side and I loved to do it,” he said.

“I spent all my years doing that work really globally.”

He has also served as a Canada quality assurance program validator and as chair of Prairie Diagnostic Services.

Daniel Prefontaine has spent his career promoting food processing in Saskatchewan.

In 1990, he joined the University of Saskatchewan’s new Saskatchewan Food Innovation Program, which eventually led to the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre.

He became president of the centre in 2000, which helped more than 300 agri-food companies develop and launch more than 800 new product lines that use Saskatchewan ingredients.

Under his leadership, the food centre has developed a national and international reputation.

More information, including how to buy tickets for the April 27 induction ceremony, is at www.sahf.ca.

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