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Blair Roth Honoured as APG’s 2017 Recipient of Alberta Pulse Industry Innovator Award (PCN Spring 2017) MAR 28 2017 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of Pulse Crop News.

The Alberta Pulse Growers (APG) selected Blair Roth, who has been instrumental in building Alberta’s pulse industry, as the winner of the third annual Alberta Pulse Industry Innovator Award.

“Each year APG recognizes a person or organization whose progressive thinking and tireless efforts helped build Alberta’s pulse industry into the flourishing industry that it is today,” said APG Past-Chair Allison Ammeter. “Blair Roth has dedicated his career to the advancement of the pulse industry and truly deserves to receive the Alberta Pulse Industry Innovator Award for his many contributions.”

Roth said that he was honoured to learn that he was chosen as the recipient of the third annual Industry Innovator Award. He was nominated by Zone 1.

“This means a lot to me and I truly appreciate the honour,” Roth said. “I am humbled to be put in the same category as previous recipients. To me, these type of awards are a team game. I hope I have played some small part, and I don’t expect the momentum of this industry to slow as the next generation takes on the challenges of the future.”

Roth discovered his life-long passion for pulses when he worked in applied research at Alberta Agriculture in the 1980s and ran field scale demonstrations for many crops, including early soybean, lupin, faba bean, chickpea, bean, pea and lentil crops. He worked very closely with producers to establish the Alberta Pulse Growers Association, which he then helped transition to the Alberta Pulse Growers Commission in 1989. Roth saw the potential for pulses in Alberta and the need for a strong provincial organization that could continue to improve production and marketing research. In 1990, Roth started working in special crops with Alberta Pool, and then Agricore. He has continued to support the growth in the pulse industry over the last nine years as the Director-Special Crops for Viterra, overseeing the North American procurement, processing and marketing of pulses for Viterra.

Roth accepted the award presented by Ammeter and Zone 1 Chair Richard Pepneck during APG’s Annual General Meeting in January at FarmTech.

Roth thanked the zone for nominating him, as well as all the people who helped him in his career during the last 40 years.

“Thanks to my family for coming along for the ride and being willing to prepare, promote and eat beans or lentils or peas even when they weren’t convinced – I think they are now,” he said from the podium at the Edmonton Expo Centre where his son Nathan watched his father accept the honour. “Thank you to the many farmers that I have learned from, worked with, done business with and befriended over the past 40 years. Life is a continual path of learning and my association with the farming community has been a real blessing for my career.”

He also expressed gratitude to the many staff members, business associates, customers and researchers he worked with and learned from over the years.

While Roth became involved in the pulse industry in 1979, he told the crowd of about 200 people at the AGM, that the closest year he could find acreage numbers for Western Canada was 1981 with 500,000 acres. He said that the acreage in Western Canada had grown to well over 10 million acres in 2016.

“What a sweet ride,” he remarked. “There have been lots of challenges, and there will be more! But there has also been lots of excitement and rewarding times observing and being part of the success that the pulse industry has achieved over the past 30-odd years.”

He added: “I think back to all the dedication and time invested by all who have toiled to make this industry what it is today. I recall the early days when we formed the Alberta Pulse Growers Association in 1979 and worried how we could ever get enough funding to direct research into the most needed areas. I think of all the on-farm research that growers willingly took on to better the industry. Let’s not forget all the hard work and risk taking of those early pioneers of our industry!”

Tim VanderHoek, APG’s Bean Director-at-Large who farms in Zone 1, had high praise for Roth’s contributions to building the pulse industry.

“Blair Roth not only helped create markets for pulses,” VanderHoek explained, “but also assisted the farmers who created this body, the Alberta Pulse Growers, that is very successful today and has grown tremendously throughout his career. He was instrumental at the start of the association, and his opinion continues to be respected at the zone and provincial level.”