Agriculture Day event focuses on the future

Conference celebrated the industry’s achievements but also looked at how the sector can improve and innovate

Agriculture Day celebrations took place across Canada Feb. 11, including a conference in Ottawa with about 500 attendees.

Hosted by Agriculture More than Ever, the event aimed to bring together people involved in agriculture, food and agribusiness.

“We’re having a gathering to celebrate Canadian agriculture and food and the contributions that we make to the great Canadian economy,” said Todd Klink, chief marketing officer at Farm Credit Canada. “I think our industry contributes so much to the Canadian economy, it’s important that it’s recognized.”

The event wasn’t just a celebration, as many of the presentations focused on ways the industry can improve and innovate.

“It’s a good time for us to take stock of what we do contribute as an industry and to get our message out to consumers about why we’re important and how we contribute to the world,” said Klink.

Doing so is no easy task. Klink pointed out only about two percent of the Canadian population is involved in agriculture.

Keith Currie, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, was one of the attendees focusing on the celebratory nature of the day, which was a theme throughout, given how the industry is, in many ways, being scrutinized now more than ever by the general public.

“Even though consumer demands are changing, they’re still eating our products,” he said, using protein as an example. “And really, we just want people to understand that it still is a good quality product that they don’t even think about when they walk in the store, they just buy it because they know it’s good. So that’s what we’re celebrating.”

Mary Robinson, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, said the industry should be proud and is the envy of the world.

The Ottawa event featured speakers and panel discussions throughout the day, including presentations on marketing from McDonalds and Alibaba Group and a “fireside chat” with Maple Leaf Foods president and chief executive officer Michael McCain.

Syngenta Canada president Trevor Heck took part in a roundtable discussion, saying he can “feel the momentum around agriculture right now.”

“You have everything from people involved on the political side, people involved in many areas of the value chain, whether it’s on the food element or procurement side, or companies like Syngenta that are further up the value chain involved in seed and crop protection. And it’s fantastic. We have an opportunity to tell our story and really get more advocates for agriculture,” he said.

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