In recognition of Grain Farmers of Ontario’s 10th anniversary, Ontario Grain Farmer is talking to staff about the impact that the organization has made. This month we sat down with Nicole Mackellar, manager of market development at Grain Farmers of Ontario, to look back at initiatives over the past 10 years.
Why has Market Development been a priority for Grain Farmers of Ontario over the past 10 years?
Expanding and creating new market opportunities for our farmer-members is a top priority for Grain Farmers of Ontario. Having viable markets available to sell their grain into is critical for our membership.
We work to create opportunities both domestically and internationally by sharing information on the quality, functionality, and sustainability of Ontario grains. We engage in a number of different activities throughout the year to help foster relationships with our value chain partners including end users, build consumer awareness, and educate Canadian Trade Commissioners posted abroad on what Ontario has to offer.
What have been some of the major milestones for Market Development over the past 10 years?
There have been a number of milestones over the past 10 years that have helped to create new domestic and international market opportunities for Ontario grain.
- Grains Innovation Fund — $1.2 million invested in 45 projects driving 1.1 million metric tonnes of grain utilization.
- Development of the Grains Analytical Testing Laboratory — joint venture with SGS Agriculture and Food that developed a world class wheat testing and analysis facility in Guelph, Ontario.
- Leader in grain sustainability development in Canada and around the world.
- Led and participated in more than 40 international trade missions.
- Led the development of Soy Canada, a national value-chain organization for soybeans in Canada.
What major changes have we seen in global market demands over the past decade?
There have been significant changes in the global marketplace over the past 10 years. If you look at just the past three years you will see the volatility grain markets face. This is caused by many factors including political tensions between countries. We are seeing this right now between China and the U.S. and China and Canada that has resulted in Canadian soybeans being shut out of the market.
Many countries are also moving towards more environmentalist viewpoints, taking similar approaches to the EU on wanting to reduce the amount of key inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers that can be used. This leads to changes in maximum residue levels which disrupts exports.
We have also seen the rise in global diseases from African Swine Fever to Avian Flu and now the COVID-19 pandemic which can cause major changes in global trade due to disruptions in supply and demand.
Although there have been many challenges, there have been opportunities as well. We have seen the rise in the middle class in Asian nations, especially China which has created increased demand in grain-based products. Domestically, consumers are becoming more and more interested in locally produced products helping to drive demand.
What are the priorities for Market Development for the next 10 years?
There are a number of areas we are focused on for the next 10 years. These include the domestic food sector and the development of an Ontario Grain Label that will allow consumers to more easily identify products made from Ontario grain. A grain supplier guide that will help connect suppliers of Ontario grain and grain-based ingredients with food companies and a new food sector website that will provide quality and functionality information for companies interested in using Ontario grain.
We will also continue to work on building our international markets looking at new and emerging market opportunities as well as how we can leverage current markets such as the EU and the UK.
We will continue to focus on sustainability, highlighting the commitment Ontario grain farmers have to sustainable agriculture practices and ongoing improvement.
We will also look at the role of carbon and how we can better share the carbon story of Ontario grain.
We look forward to continuing to work on creating market opportunities for our farmer-members for years to come. •