Soybean industry plans national organization

Soybean industry plans national organization

Canada’s soybean industry could have a new national organization by this fall.

Grower associations, exporters and crushers are developing the mandate and role of Soy Canada, which will become the industry’s national and international voice.

“We’re looking at soybean acres (and) the potential to expand right across the country,” said Dave Buttenham, secretary-manager of the Canadian Soybean Exporters’ Association.

“We feel the time is right to create this organization that can adequately represent all segments of the industry and all geographical areas.”

A soybean industry steering committee has been working on a template for the new organization for the past several months. Soy Canada will begin recruiting members once the document is finalized.

“The goal is to get people to start committing to sign on to this fledgling group starting in the very near future, in the next 30 days,” said Francois Labelle, interim executive director of the Manitoba Pulse Growers Association.

Labelle said exporters, life science companies, soybean crushers and grower organizations are collaborating on Soy Canada.

“There’s a lot of people at the table, at the moment,” he said.

“We’ve been talking with the Grain Farmers of Ontario, we’ve been talking with Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Association … the producers in Quebec and the producers in the Atlantic provinces. Alberta is involved as well.”

Canadian soybean acres have increased dramatically over the last decade as farmers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan embrace the crop: from 2.9 million in 2005 to 4.5 million last year.

Buttenham said Soy Canada will likely have four primary roles:

  • government relations and market access
  • building the profile of the industry, within Canada and internationally
  • co-ordination of research and innovation
  • market development

“Compared to other crops that have a national voice … soybeans don’t have that,” Labelle said.

“There’s no one addressing, in any organized way, issues with market access or MRLs (maximum residue limits),” he said.

“Even some of the funding (for) research projects that are done under things like Growing Forward 2 are not done in an organized fashion by one group.”

Buttenham said Soy Canada isn’t based on the Canola Council of Canada model.

“I wouldn’t say we’re paralleling anything. We’re building something we feel fits the soybean industry,” he said.

“There comes some synergy with pulling all segments of the industry together, from across Canada, to look at issues related to soybeans both domestically and internationally.”

He said the new organization could be operational in six months.

“Should this proceed and we get adequate buy in from all segments of the industry, we would be looking at the fall of 2014 to try and get the new Soy Canada up and running.”

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