I’ll never forget my young daughter’s reaction a few years ago to the first day back to school after Christmas break.
As I tried to gently shake her awake and tell it was time to get ready for school, she peered at me bleary eyed and wailed: “So there’s no more holidays? You mean it’s just normal days now?”
As the years have rolled on, she’s become better adjusted to the resumption of business post-holidays, though like most of us, she’s not an unalloyed fan. But she does concede it’s all right to get back to a bit of a routine, see her friends again and resume her job of learning.
Most of us would probably, if pressed a bit on the topic, admit the same. Here at the Co-operator, and in fact for the farm media field in general, we’re just entering our busiest part of the year. As farm organizations ramp up their activities, it will be a flurry of meetings and events to cover, and of course, it’s when you have the time to consider and weigh in on the important topics of the day.
The unofficial start of this season here in Manitoba has long been the Ag Days show in Brandon, slated this year for Jan. 22, 23 and 24 at the Keystone Centre.
The speaker lineup delves into a number of meaty issues every farmer in the province should be pondering, such as the proposed new seed royalties. Depending on your view, this will either upend countless generations of saving seed or usher Canada into the modern era and properly fund research.
Also on the agenda will be communicating with consumers, the challenges and opportunities of international markets, long-range weather discussions, numerous market outlooks for the year, and of course many agronomic topics.
But Ag Days is just the tip of the iceberg as the meeting season really gets rolling.
The Keystone Agricultural Producers holds its annual meeting February 5 and 6; the organization’s Young Farmers Conference runs February 6 and 7 at the same venue. The province’s general farm organization takes the creation of grassroots policy very seriously and this is where that direction is ratified.
The following week it’s the Crop Connect conference, which is a one-stop-shop joint annual meeting of a number of commodity groups here in the province, running February 13 and 14 at Winnipeg’s Victoria Inn.
Once again the preliminary agenda for that meeting looks to be jam packed, with sessions devoted to precision agriculture, soil regeneration, grain marketing and agriculture mental health.
No doubt the annual general meetings of the co-operating commodity groups, held at the event, will continue to explore the possibility of a formal merger. The proposal is now set for a vote next winter, delayed a year from the initial suggestion it could come to a vote at this meeting.
One might think that the arrival of March might have the sector eyeing the field and backing off the throttle on the meeting season, but nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, it will be accelerating as the window to have fulsome discussions on important and often complex issues begins to close. By the time field work starts, few will have time to ponder policy in great depth.
A change this year will be the annual Canola Council of Canada annual general meeting. In past years the organization has been the target of criticism for the choice of warmer climes for its annual get-together. This year it appears to be taking a more collaborative approach, as it holds a joint meeting with the Canada Grains Council’s Global Crops Symposium March 5 to 7 in Montreal.
As well as these large and well-known events, there will be a significant number of very important meetings held with a far lower profile. These are the inside-baseball nuts and bolts industry committees that oversee important aspects of the sector.
In late February, for example, the Prairie Grain Development Committee’s Recommending Committee for Wheat, Rye & Triticale will be having its annual discussions amongst breeders, agronomists, crop pathologies and crop quality experts.
Then of course there’s the long list of local agronomy updates and other agriculture-related meetings that pop up every winter across the province.
It’s a metaphorical flood of information. We at the Co-operator will of course be working as hard as we can to dutifully report and analyze it all.
Our goal is coverage that means you won’t have to attend every meeting, and won’t be left in the dark because you’ve also got a life and a business to run.
But perhaps we will run into one another on the meeting trail.