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Ontario Grain Farmer Magazine is the flagship publication of Grain Farmers of Ontario and a source of information for our province’s grain farmers. 

Ontario Agricultural Conference

PROVINCIAL CONFERENCES COLLABORATE AGAIN IN 2023

THE ONTARIO AGRICULTURAL CONFERENCE WILL BE HELD JANUARY 4 AND 5, 2023. WWW.ONTARIOAGCONFERENCE.CA.

THE COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we live, work, play — and learn. And in the agriculture sector, that has definitely been the case for agricultural conferences and knowledge transfer events. In 2023, the Southwest Agricultural Conference (SWAC), the Eastern Ontario Crop Conference, and Heartland and Golden Horseshoe Soil and Crop Improvement Associations (who formerly co-hosted annual conferences in Guelph and Waterloo) will once again be joining forces to host the Ontario Agricultural Conference, on January 4 and 5.

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In 2020 and 2021, Covid-19 pandemic restrictions brought the Ontario Agricultural Conference partners together to host a joint, entirely virtual conference. While attendees missed out on in-person networking and hearing first-hand from agricultural experts around the world, the virtual platform and the collaborative efforts of the three conference organizing teams were found to have a lot of positive impacts, according to conference chair Albert Tenuta.

“The response from attendees after two years of hosting the conference online has been very supportive of keeping the virtual platform,” says Tenuta. “Having access to the recorded sessions, to watch on their own time, means they don’t miss things they might have missed at an in-person conference.”

HYBRID EVENT

In 2021 and 2022, the Ontario Agricultural Conference hosted more than 40 pre-recorded sessions featuring agricultural experts from all over the world. Live sessions were held over two days during the dates that the SWAC would traditionally occur. All the sessions were then available for registrants to watch, at their own pace, over the next three months.

In 2023, a similar format will be followed, but with a hybrid-twist. In-person events scaled back from what attendees would have experienced pre-pandemic will be held in Ridgetown, Waterloo, and Kemptville. The Ridgetown location will host the conference’s “Ag Desk” and live sessions, which will be live streamed to the to the Waterloo and Kemptville locations and registrants watching from home or from other remote locations across Canada.

While Tenuta acknowledges that some people may be ready for the conferences to “return to normal,“ he says that the hybrid approach will allow for the in-person networking and social aspects that were missed while keeping some of the positive benefits of a fully-virtual conference. “We also have to be able to plan ahead,” he says. “We have to be able to respond quickly if there are changes to public health orders, and some people just aren’t ready to participate in a crowd.”

TECTALK TUESDAYS

One of the biggest successes of the virtual conferences was the TecTalk Tuesdays — a series of live, virtual events hosted on Zoom held weekly for several weeks following the conference. TecTalk Tuesdays allowed registrants to dive deeper into topics of sessions that interested them and gave speakers a chance to connect and engage in discussion with farmers and industry members. This popular additional benefit of conference registration will continue in 2023.

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN

Registration for the virtual and in-person events opened on November 1. Tenuta encourages anyone who wishes to attend the in-person sessions to register early, as capacity will be limited. Virtual attendees can register at any time. All registrants will have online access to the recorded sessions until March 31.

For more information, including details on the three in-person locations, agenda, speakers, and session topics, visit the Ontario Agricultural Conference website at www.ontarioagconference.ca. •

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