Alberta Pulse Growers Welcomes New Commissioner (PCN Spring 2014) MAY 5 2014 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News
This article appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Pulse Crop News.
Don Shepert, Zone 5 Commissioner
Don Shepert and his family live near St. Paul, AB. In January, 2014 at the Alberta Pulse Growers Annual General Meeting, Don was elected for a 3-year term as a Commissioner to the APG Board representing Zone 5.
Pulse Crop News: Could you tell me a bit about yourself and your farm?
Don Shepert: I’m the second generation on my dad’s farm, which we bought in 1979. My wife and I have been on the farm for 35 years and are farming a little more than a section of land. For the first 14 years we dairied and now have beef cattle and crops.
PCN: What crops do you grow?
DS: Mostly peas and barley I am experimenting with peas and canola as a mix. Everything did well last year, I am going to continue on with a similar mix this year, except with maybe a little less canola and more peas. The quality of the peas was good. The canola seemed to protect the green peas enough to keep them from bleaching. It’s a nice protective crop and it helps with standability.
PCN: What are your experiences with growing pulse crops?
DS: I have been growing peas since the Century and Trapper varieties years ago. They (peas) are just wonderful for the soil. You see such freshness and a health to the soil that you just have to continue doing it despite the fact that some years there are challenges with diseases and the crop going down. We lost producers in our area because they picked a 50-60 bu crop up off the ground and so they haven’t grown peas since. I think that’s the biggest challenge for peas (standability), but we still have a lot of greens grown throughout this area.
PCN: What is the biggest issue facing your farm and your area right now?
DS: I would say it’s a combination of prices and movement of the crop.
PCN: What is your role at the St. Paul Seed cleaning plant and what do they do with pulses?
DS: I am a plant operator and we export green peas. It’s been our niche for quite a while, one year 100,000 bu were exported out of here. The peas go all over the place but it’s going to take a while to get going again because the broker we had used in not available anymore.
PCN: What got you interested in APG?
DS: Years ago I took over for a guy who termed out, and became the secretary of zone 5. I have some interesting books from when I started. As APG grew, you saw the work they were doing, it wasn’t hard to stand behind the organization because it was very good work. When the position of commissioner came up it was an easy decision. It’s a good opportunity to work with an organization that moves forward. I was interested in growing peas and knew that pulses needed a network and an organization to help promote them. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed doing is promoting things, like promoting pulses or even promoting our local (basketball) referees association.
PCN: Commissioners within APG sit on various committees such as Research or Extension. You chose to become involved on the Marketing committee, why?
DS: I’m interested in processing, that’s my passion. When my term is done I would love to be able to say that I was involved in a processing facility that starting up in north-eastern Alberta; either a pea splitter or a grinder. I have a whole pile of things I have put together but the pea splitting industry is very secretive and it’s very hard to find a price. We need to have more processing moving forward, we have the raw product here but then we have to put it on a truck. We already use containers here and they move just as well through the rail so I don’t see that as a big issue.
PCN: One of your roles as a volunteer with APG is to sit on the FarmTech committee. What is your position on that committee? And what is involved with that role?
DS: I will find out a whole lot more how the planning works at the March planning meeting. I’m an APG representative on the Planning Committee and also the Foundation Committee which controls the funds. Previously, Gordon Tuck represented APG on both committees and I look forward to being involved.
PCN: What direction do you think APG should head?
DS: Increased acres. We can still handle increased sales whether it’s domestic by processing or exporting. For the most part I don’t think we have saturated the market. I still believe we can probably double our acres but we have to proceed carefully. When you get a year like last year where everything falls into place with great yields and then it’s not moving. Look at crushers, they have done really well. We still export canola seed but the crushers have taken up so much domestic production and it’s a good thing. We need to make our pulses into flours and ingredients that people need. This can be done on the prairies and it can be done in Alberta.
Welcome Don, we look forward to working with you on the APG board!