Executive Director’s Message (PCN Fall 2015) OCT 1 2015 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News
This article appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Pulse Crop News.
Leanne Fischbuch, Executive Director
Early seeding, dry conditions, extended heat blasts, untimely hail, rain events and frost – welcome to the summer/ fall of 2015. APG noted another year of increased acreage across most of the pulse crops with total pulse acreage of over 1.8 million acres seeded, approximately eight per cent of the arable acres in the province. Through positive price signals and further development of markets and more first time growers, APG is optimistic that this indicates a growing trend that will be helpful for all producers in the development of a strong and beneficial rotation.
In many areas, early seeding led to an opportunity for peas and faba beans to capture the soil moisture and get good establishment. What started out as a pretty positive year took a turn in June and July with the extremely hot conditions, and significant hail events for some areas, which stunted growth and had an effect on yields. Some pulse crops enjoyed it a bit drier, but some suffered. A benefit of the drier conditions was the decline in disease on some of the crops, but the flip side of lower disease was increased insect damage with pea leaf weevil and grasshopper damage expanding. Taking this together, APG is anticipating a drop in yields for this year but we still hope to hit our quality parameters and, for growers, prices are remaining strong.
Because of the challenging conditions in some areas of the province, there were fewer crop walks and summer tours, but a highlight for APG was the hard work of Zone 2 members to offer a crop tour to international guests of the Canadian Special Crops Association Conference (CSCA). Thirty buyers from across the globe toured pulse focused facilities and a farm northeast of Calgary on a beautiful day in June. Many of the international guests trade pulse crops for a living but had never seen peas and lentils in the fields, only in bags or in bulk deliveries in their respective countries. It was a highlight of the summer for APG and we hope that our international guests left with a favourable impression of Alberta’s pulse industry.
This summer also saw an increased focus on policy work for the cropping sector in the province. Partnering with Alberta Wheat Commission, Alberta Barley, Alberta Canola Producers Commission, APG worked to gain knowledge about various sustainability schemes that are being highlighted and anticipated to be part of the future of food production. Grower volunteers participated in a project to learn if they are really ready for the implementation of these sustainability metrics. Commissions are continuing to work on this project into the new crop year.
Another prominent policy topic has been the Government of Alberta’s Safe and Healthy Farms and Ranches policy discussions. APG has been informed, along with other members of both the livestock and cropping sectors, on the Government’s plans to advance legislation that focuses on Occupational Health and Safety, Insurance, Employment Standards and Labour Relations. APG has had discussions with Government of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry representatives as well as officials from Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour on the topic, and will continue to work for the best interests of the membership on the file.
Aside from policy, the summer had a continued focus on the preparations for International Year of Pulses in 2016 (IYP2016). From highlighting IYP2016 at the CSCA conference in June, to contributing and the further development of Canada’s plans for the celebrations, to developing our own Alberta-focused program, IYP is proving to be an opportunity that our industry is embracing. Interest is coming from many groups to learn more about pulse crops and the opportunity to elevate how pulses address food and nutrition, security, innovation, productivity, environmental sustainability, and market access and stability, and increasing the overall awareness of the crops. The industry has been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that can be a launching pad for growth and development. APG is proud to play a role in the celebrations beginning on January 6, 2016 at the Canadian launch. Connect to iyp2016.org to learn more about the celebrations.
Finally, as we move into the new crop year it becomes meeting season for commissions. I invite you to join APG during the zone meetings which are held across the province in November and December. APG directors, advisors and staff would like to hear your thoughts on our industry and share more information on our plans moving into the 2015-16 crop year. In many of the locations we are partnering with other crop commissions to make the most of your grower time and investment.
We also look forward and invite you to consider participating by becoming a zone advisor. There are many benefits of becoming engaged with the organization, from being able to participate on the various committees, opportunities to travel and learn about the latest information, as well as provide input and comments directly to the provincial board. For more information on becoming an APG advisor, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and join us at our zone meetings. We look forward to hearing from you.