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CELEBRATING 30 YEARS
IN SEPTEMBER, BRENDA Miller-Sanford celebrated 30 years with Grain Farmers of Ontario, having started her career with one of our legacy organizations, the Ontario Corn Producers’ Association (OCPA). Ontario Grain Farmer magazine sat down with Miller-Sanford to reflect on three decades within the agricultural industry, her passion for farming, and a few favourite memories.
Ontario Grain Farmer (OGF): How did you get started with OCPA?
Brenda Miller-Sanford (B.M.-S.): I had taken the Business Information Systems program and majored in Data Processing at Fanshawe College. I remember commenting to my mom that this likely meant the end of my involvement in agriculture. As the oldest of three girls, I grew up as dad’s right-hand man on our farm in Huron County — we grew a cash crop rotation of corn, soybeans, and wheat and had a farrow-to-finish hog operation. During my high school and college years, when I was home from school during harvest, I would jump into the truck with my books so I could study while waiting my turn to deliver at the elevator. Fanshawe used to mail out job opportunities and one of these notices included an opening at OCPA for a computer coordinator. Dad contacted an OCPA director who lived down the road who in turn informed the office of someone looking for work. I sent in my resume, had an interview in a hotel lobby in downtown London, and got hired. My ag background and fresh out of college is how I got started.
OGF: What has kept you with one company for the past 30 years?
B.M.-S.: I love being involved in agriculture. I’ve had fantastic people to work with, I’ve had the opportunity to grow and develop different skills, and I’ve had a variety of work even in my daily routine. My original role as a computer coordinator evolved into education and computer coordinator. As the only aggie in my college group, I faced a lot of razzing about what I had done on the weekend — ‘slop the hogs again?’ — and it made me realize how little most of them knew about agriculture. I had an interest in consumer awareness and education, so I designed and set up education displays at events such as the Royal and created teacher’s kits. My IT work included creating and maintaining a database system and introducing desktop computers to the Board of Directors. Technology and our use and acceptance of it has definitely evolved. I remember staff asking for their typewriters back; and one phone call during which I tried to explain to one of our directors how to use a mouse and the difference between a single click, double click, hold the mouse while you click.
My role continued to evolve — executive assistant, business operations manager, project manager — as did the various duties that came with each of those roles. I worked on the Ontario Corn Producer magazine, organized OCPA meetings and joint conferences with the soybean and wheat organizations, planned exhibits for the International Plowing Match and Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show. I remember days when I would recruit family members to help fill gift baskets for MPPs, taking my kids into the office on weekends, and getting stuck in the mud at one IPM where they were moving wet topsoil around like snow. There’s never been a dull moment.
OGF: Over the years, you’ve seen a lot of change within the agriculture industry, including the formation of Grain Farmers of Ontario, what are your thoughts on this?
B.M.-S.: The change in technology has been incredible — in the fields and in the office; but what has also changed is the way we operate as an agricultural organization. The merger that formed Grain Farmers of Ontario created a stronger voice for agriculture. The work that we are doing now with government, other commodity groups, and agri-businesses is a reflection of our ability to accomplish more than we ever could as individual organizations. It’s important to understand and address the changes in global markets and consumer trends and I think we have accomplished this by recognizing and responding to trends within the industry — such as increasing our emphasis on sustainability and public outreach.
OGF: Who would you like to acknowledge for their support of your career?
B.M.-S.: Gerry Wallis, a former OCPA director, is key to why I am where I am today. Terry Daynard, Don LeDrew, and Brian Doidge for their support, guidance, and allowing me to evolve with the OCPA through the years. And Barry Senft, CEO of Grain Farmers of Ontario, for his vision of our organization and bringing it to where we are today. I appreciate working for Grain Farmers of Ontario and I am proud to work for Ontario’s grain farmers. •
BEST OF CAMA FINALISTS ANNOUNCED
Grain Farmers of Ontario is proud to once again be recognized by the agricultural industry for its marketing and communications efforts. The organization is a finalist in six categories for the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association’s Best of CAMA awards.
‘Chris Soules promotes the Good in Every Grain’, our consumer outreach and media tour initiative last November, is a finalist for total campaign, video targeted to an external audience, and media relations. Our rebrand of the Grain Farmers of Ontario pickup truck and event trailers, which incorporated barley and oats into the corporate design, is a finalist in the ‘other outdoor’ category. The Ontario Grain Farmer magazine is a finalist in the magazine and newspaper category. SellSmart, our mobile pricing app that was completely redesigned this past year with AgNition, is a finalist in the mobile apps category.
Grain Farmers of Ontario congratulates the finalists in all Best of CAMA categories. The winners will be announced at a gala event held in Calgary on November 4. •
FREE TRAINING FOR IPM COURSES EXTENDED
Ontario will continue to offer the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) course for corn and soybeans for free until April 30, 2017. The course is now required for anyone to buy and use neonicotinoid-treated corn or soybean seed.
Offered by the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus, the course covers corn and soybean pest identification, planting best management practices, the new regulatory requirements for Class 12 pesticides, and pollinator protection from neonicotinoid exposure. The course is taught by experienced instructors, many of whom are farmers.
Courses can be taken as a half-day in-class program, or over two days online where participants enjoy the convenience of learning at their own pace. Upcoming course dates will be posted on www.ipmcertified.ca. Courses will be offered in English and French, both in-class across the province and online. To register, go to www.ipmcertified.ca or call 1-866-225-9020. •
2017 OPEN CALL FOR RESEARCH PROPOSALS
Grain Farmers of Ontario has released its call for research proposals for funding in 2017. Investment in research is a long-term strategic initiative of Grain Farmers of Ontario. The organization provides funding for research projects that address the present and future needs of our farmer-members. Last year, Grain Farmers of Ontario invested $1.7 million from farmer-members into research projects and leveraged those dollars through government and industry partnerships for a total research value of $7.3 million.
The 2017 call for research proposals will target projects addressing four priority research areas: Agronomy and Production; Weed, Disease & Insect Pests; Breeding & Genetics, and Crop Utilization & Quality. Within these broad priorities, we are also specifically highlighting cover crop, phosphorous management, and crop utilization priorities. The updated 2017 Grain Farmers of Ontario research priorities are available online at www.gfo.ca/research.
Interested researchers must submit the application form found at www.gfo.ca/research. Applications will be accepted until 4 p.m. on November 30, 2016. Should researchers have any questions, they are encouraged to contact Grain Farmers of Ontario to discuss their research proposals — contact Natalie DiMeo at email@example.com or 519-767-4138. •
INSIDE GRAIN FARMERS OF ONTARIO
Grain Farmers of Ontario has a new video series — Inside Grain Farmers of Ontario. This weekly online video update features interviews with staff to highlight news and activities from the different departments within our organization. Check for the latest videos at www.youtube.com/user/grainfarmersontario. •
Grain Farmers of Ontario’s SellSmart app has been relaunched to better help you sell your barley, corn, oats, soybeans, and wheat in the commodity markets. This specialized app provides CBOT futures pricing data and adjusted cash prices for local grain elevators across the province. You are invited to download the latest update and enjoy new features, improved functionality, and a refined interface. SellSmart is free to use.
The app was originally released for BlackBerry in 2010, and now we invite you to download the latest update for Apple iOS, Android, and BlackBerry BB10 devices. Users with older BlackBerry devices can continue to use the original version of SellSmart in the BlackBerry World store.
A lot has changed in the six years since SellSmart was originally released, and the app has been completely rebuilt from the ground up to meet new standards for accessibility and responsiveness. Like the original, you can select the regions and elevators that you are interested in. In addition to significant improvements to the user interface, the app will also support currency conversion and barley and oat pricing.
You can also define low or high prices for commodities and receive price alerts as a notification message on your device. This price alert feature, combined with local cash price data, is what really sets SellSmart apart from other mobile commodity pricing tools — you won’t find these features anywhere else. •
by Philip Shaw
It is harvest season across United States and Ontario with large crops being anticipated. In the U.S., the latest Dow Jones survey expects the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to peg this year’s corn crop at 15.04 billion bushels with 2.36 billion bushel ending stocks for 2016/17. The same survey expects the USDA to peg the 2016 soybean crop at 4.28 billion bushels with a national yield of 51.4 bushels per acre. These are huge crops, which for the most part have been factored in to futures prices.
The Ontario crop is being harvested with exceptional soybean yields where summer rains were prevalent. At the same time, where summer drought hit corn yields are not expected to be as good. The Canadian dollar at .7593 U.S. remains a stimulant to our cash prices. •