Agricultural Hall of Fame: Willie Siemens

Five new members of the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame were inducted July 17 at a ceremony 
in Portage la Prairie. We’re featuring a new inductee each week

Willie (Bill) Siemens was born in Kronsthal, Manitoba to David and Anna Siemens. In 1960 Bill married MaryAnne Dyck. They have two daughters, Beverly and Kelly. The family lived on the family farm in the Rural Municipality of Rhineland until 2000 when Bill and MaryAnne moved to Winkler.

Bill began his farming career with his parents and bought his first 80 acres from them in 1959. That same year, he received his diploma in agriculture from the University of Manitoba and his first sugar beet contract from Manitoba Sugar Company. Bill went on to buy the farm and increased its acreage producing seed, process and table potatoes, plus corn, canola, cereal grain and beans. He incorporated the farm to a family-held corporation in 1976 as W.J. Siemens Farming Co. Ltd. In 1986 Bill and MaryAnne were honoured with the Rhineland Agricultural Society Farmer Achievement Award. The farm further expanded becoming a shareholder in a farm near Bagot. In 2012 farming acreage and irrigation was again increased with the acquisition of a farm near Katrime. Ongoing initiatives have grown the operation to include the third generation.

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Bill provided leadership to the sugar beet and potato industries at the local, national and international level. He served terms as president of the World Association of Beet and Cane Growers and the Keystone Vegetable Producers’ Association, promoting growth in the industry, lobbying governments and negotiating contracts on behalf of the growers. He also served as a delegate to the Potato Marketing Association of North America and the Canadian Horticultural Council. In 1993, Bill received honorary membership in the Manitoba Institute of Agrologists in recognition of his contributions to the agriculture industry.

Bill has also been recognized for his various activities in the community. As a youth, he was involved in 4-H garden, beef, sugar beet and dairy projects winning the 1957 Manitoba Dairy Cattle Breeders Association award. For his continued involvement in 4-H as a leader, he was given the Canadian Council on 4-H Leadership Award in 1970. He received the Governor General’s Commemorative Medal in 1993 and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. Bill was also active in Community Economic Development organizations and was named Winkler Citizen of the Year in 2011. As members of the Winkler Heritage and Horticultural Society, Bill and MaryAnne led the development of the Bethel Heritage Park. They are also active members of their church.

Bill’s service to the agricultural industry and to his community is well respected by producers and fellow citizens.

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