Grain Week 2020
by Brittany Turchyn
Twice a year the Grain Growers of Canada hosts National Grain Week, a unique event that is held with the purpose of bringing together key stakeholders in Canadian agriculture to discuss relevant and emerging policy issues. Although this event is typically held in the nation’s capital, Ottawa, Ontario, this year was an exception to the norm as, like with other industries, challenges associated with COVID-19 reduced the ability of participants to travel and meet in person. As always, those involved in agriculture showed their agility, flexibility and creativity, leading to National Grain Week being held in November, 2020, with attendees joining virtually from all across Canada.
As was the case with other participants, I had the great privilege of attending National Grain Week as a result of my mentorship with Erin Gowriluk, the Executive Director of the Grain Growers of Canada. As you may be aware, opportunities to sit in on meetings where grain farmers and agriculture are explained and promoted to key government decision makers is not something that happens often. As a result, I was excited to observe the advocacy efforts that took place and the ensuing exchange of ideas that followed. This past meeting also provided a time for farmer directors and Grain Growers of Canada staff to offer suggestions with respect to how Canadian farmers in the grain sector can drive innovation and grow in a renewed economy once the pandemic ends.
Through bringing relevant stakeholders together to discuss issues of importance to Canadian farmers, I found that I was better able to understand the nuances of Canadian agricultural policy and how its influence ranges from the field, to the dinner table and everywhere in between. At all stages during National Grain Week, I was pleased to see how well informed, prepared and open to innovation the participants were. Like other strategic sectors in the Canadian economy, agricultural workers have faced setbacks in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hearing discussions about how the agricultural industry can whether the storm and emerge renewed- in part through technological innovation- was an encouraging sign for all those, including myself, that have a stake in seeing Canadian agriculture grow (no pun intended). Having the privilege to observe and participate in this unique event, which was only made possible by my Advancing Ag Program mentor, Erin Gowriluk, was an experience that I will not soon forget as I frequently reflect on discussions that I heard during National Grain Week as I talk with farmers on a day-to-day basis. To me, this level of reflection highlights just how important events like National Grain Week are for our industry going forward