Ontario Grain Farmer March 2024

and inclusion efforts in agriculture are two industry-wide issues that he’s taken a personal interest in and taken a leadership role in advancing. “The biggest challenge has always come down to the same thing — communication,” says Byrne. “During Covid, it was hard to communicate with people like we normally did … those other issues, it came down to communicating with the government how important it was to allow fertilizer to come in, how important it was for the Seaway to open, to communicate the needs of farmers to keep money in their pocket rather than on carbon tax for grain drying.” 23 ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER Byrne says he has also appreciated unwavering support from his family — including wife Mindy and children Brendan and Alyssa. BIGGEST CHALLENGES Byrne’s term as chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario was marked by several unprecedented events — his term as chair started amid the global Covid-19 pandemic; the Russian invasion of Ukraine led to a crisis in fertilizer supply and prices; and most recently, a strike by St. Lawrence Seaway workers threatened to shut down Ontario grain exports right at the height of harvest. Domestically, Byrne has led the charge in advocating for relief from the federal carbon tax on grain drying and increased support for business risk management programs provincially. Farmer mental health and equity, diversity, MARCH 2024 continued on page 24 BRENDAN BYRNE, TOGETHER WITH THE BOARD AND STAFF OF GRAIN FARMERS OF ONTARIO, HAVE WORKED HARD TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH PROVINCIAL LEADERS.