GRAIN FARMERS OF ONTARIO brought together 30 young agriculture professionals to learn where crops go after they leave the farm during our Grains in Action conference.
Grains in Action is a four-day program for young leaders to gain knowledge about the grain value chain, meet industry contacts, and build relationships with like-minded people. This conference allows participants to learn about the demand and end-uses of crops.
“Every single place we toured was fantastic. It was incredible to see how and what our grain goes into. From food to alcohol to pharmaceutical products. Its unbelievable what certain grains are used for,” says Faith Fullerton, a University of Guelph student and 2019 Grains in Action participant. “As a farmer, it is easy to forget what happens to your corn when you take it to the elevator. You unload, drive away, and receive a cheque a little while later, but you don’t necessarily know what that corn is now an ingredient in, or what it is getting used for. This tour is a great way to answer some of those unknowns and give you a sense of what happens before your grain makes it to the consumer.”
Just as significant as the learning portion of the tour is the opportunity to network. This program encourages young professionals from a variety of backgrounds to network with one another and the industry representatives they meet throughout the tour.
This is also a first step to further engage young farmers with Grain Farmers of Ontario. They learn how to become more involved with the organization as a delegate, alternate, committee member, or director.
The program began with presentations from government followed by a tasting with Spirits Canada at the Delta Hotel in Guelph. Spirits Canada talked to attendees about the relationship between grains and whisky before an ice breaking cocktail class.
The second day of the tour took attendees to Cargill Sarnia where they learned about shipping grains and how export terminals help balance supply and demand in Canada. They discussed that export markets help add value through competitive prices to growers. Attendees toured the facility and discussed DON testing.
“I was able to learn about the supply and demand structure for the grain grown in Ontario. This included seeing the primary end uses within the province, export opportunities, and how these are affected by the quantity and quality of the grain produced within a given season,” says Alex Sanders a Grains in Action attendee and the 2019 program valedictorian.
Greenfield Ethanol was the next tour stop for Grains in Action attendees. They heard about how ethanol and other alcohols are produced at Greenfield. This includes medical grade alcohol and food grade alcohol, which is used in Mike’s Hard Lemonade. The group went across the street to Truly Green Farms where they saw the bi-products of the ethanol production, CO2 and heat, being used in the greenhouse.
On day three, attendees visited ADM Windsor, where discussions focused on soybean and canola production, and their end uses. ADM employees talked about exporting and marketing grain in the global market. The busy day continued to Hiram Walker for a tasting and discussion about whisky and grain with master blender Dr. Don Livermore. The day ended at Ridgetown where participants heard new research on DON testing and long-term research trails.
“I would absolutely recommend this tour to any young person in the agriculture and food industry, as it provides you with a solid understanding of Ontario’s grain supply chain. You witness several operations that do everything from crushing soybean and canola, to producing livestock feed, to storing and exporting grain. This gives you a sense of the importance of Ontario grain as indicated by the its extensive range of end uses. You accomplish this while being given the opportunity to network with fellow industry members as well as learn more about the work of Grain Farmers of Ontario,” says Sanders.
The final day of Grains in Action started with a tour and talk at Wallenstein Feed, where attendees saw how the feed mill operates. At Wallenstein, about 60 per cent of the feed they create uses biproducts that would not be used in human consumption, such as wheat shorts or dried distiller’s grains (DDGs). The visit to Wallenstein Feed wrapped up with a discussion on consumer outreach with Wendall Schumm of Wallenstein and host of the Ontario AgCast.
HOW TO BE INVOLVED
If you are interested in attending 2020 Grains in Action or would like to recommend a young agriculture leader for the program contact Maegan MacKimmie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I would 100 per cent recommend this tour to young people in agriculture. If you are looking to meet new people, network with industry professionals, learn what your grain gets turned into, and have an absolutely great experience four days — this is the tour for you,” says Fullerton.
Hear more about the Grains in Action program in our GrainTALK podcast! Go to www.gfo.ca/podcasts and look for Episode 17.
This article features a Grain Farmers of Ontario Member Relations initative. •