Farmers have fought hard and with passion to have their voices heard around the table of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB).
What farmers need are leaders who not only represent their business interests, but who have a vision for a strong and successful CWB in two to 10 years from now. This leadership needs to build an organization that embraces change and positions it for success. Given today’s dynamics in the international trade of any commodity, the first step is to put farmers and their business first.
By focusing on improving farmer returns in wheat and barley and increasing business and market development efforts, the wheat board will be able to reverse the decline in wheat and barley acreages that Canada has seen in recent years.
This requires the wheat board to summon the courage, and vision to develop an innovative business model tailored to the vast and varied needs of growers.
I believe the CWB can play a vital and integral role in the future of western Canadian agriculture. I believe this role needs to incorporate global and domestic trends to build markets for our farmers.
The CWB operates within the bounds of existing legislation. To serve the needs of western Canadian farmers, there must be some ability to implement positive changes within this legislation. Because agricultural production and markets are changing so rapidly and dramatically, the CWB needs to recognize and adapt to these changes. The wheat board needs to better understand the domestic and global markets, and their impact on the producer, the vital link in this organization.
Western Canada has a growing number of farmers that need greater opportunities and tools to manage their businesses. A new generation of farmers requires different and innovative marketing strategies. Cash flow, pricing, and delivery opportunities must be improved to meet the needs of today’s and future farmers. Debt servicing is limited with on-farm inventory, and must be addressed.
The market development of wheat and barley are two of CWB’s strong points. The CWB’s work with the Canadian International Grains Institute (CIGI) should be strengthened and enhanced. Farmers need to know what our customers want in terms of varieties, quality, and quantity. I believe the CWB can effectively deliver these services, putting the farmers’ business returns first.
I have been farming since 1974, returning from university to take over the family farm.
I graduated from the University of Manitoba with a diploma in agriculture and I graduated the chartered director’s program from the Directors College-McMasters University.
I began my journey into farm policy and politics in 1991 when, driven by the economic situation of farmers, I helped organize and moderated the October Farm Rally in Winnipeg.
From 1993 to 2001, I served on the board of directors of United Grain Growers, taking on positions on the member relations and human resources Committees. From 2001-07, as a member of the board of directors of Agricore United, I served on the company’s audit and member and community relations committees.
I have chaired the finance committee of the Canola Council of Canada for six years. I have been involved with the Manitoba Canola Growers Association since 1994; serving as the organization’s chairperson, president and treasurer. I am presently serving as the chair of the communications committee.
In the 1990s, I wrote a column entitled “Dirt Farmer’s Arithmetic” inGrainews. Through this venue I had the opportunity to travel to Ukraine and wrote several articles called “Inside Ukraine.” These articles highlighted the challenges and struggles of agriculture in Ukraine during this time.
My wife Janet and I operate a 3,100-acre farm growing wheat, oilseeds and special crops near Dauphin, Manitoba. Janet takes an active part in the daily operation of the farm as well as acting as principal of a K-6 Ukrainian Bilingual School. Our three children Tanis, Rachel and Alyssia also share our love of farming, with all three having completed bachelor of science degrees in agriculture and working in the agriculture industry. They all also take active part in the daily operation of the farm.
I have been, and continue to be involved in my community, serving on the board of St. Paul’s Personal Care Home; acting as master of ceremonies for Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival; serving as president and a current adviser to a local Ukrainian Dance group; volunteering for many community events and serving on our church parish council and acting as cantor. I enjoy travelling and golfing.