ADHS students attend Grow Canada Conference 2012

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by Julia M. Langlois

Students and their teacher from ADHS meet Ben Mulroney. From left to right, top row: Lydia Handforth, Shelby Featherston, Julia Langlois, Ben Mulroney, Jack James, Mrs. Bedor, and Brad McGregor. Bottom row: Margot Denis, Colleen Stratford- Curtis, Haley Langstaff.

On Wednesday, November 28, students from Almonte and District High School attended the Grow Canada Conference.  The event attracted students who had interests in farming and the environment.

“Purpose. Passion. Pride.” All three traits were evident at the Grow Canada Conference this year. The conference, held at The Westin in Ottawa, focuses on agriculture in Canada. The main goal was to encourage innovation so that Canada “can enjoy the economic, environmental and social benefits of the bio-economy”, as noted in the program’s agenda.

The keynote speakers included Frank McKenna (Deputy Chair, TD Bank Group and Former Canadian Ambassador), Michael Bloom (Vice- President, The Conference Board of Canada), Brian Lee Crowley (MacDonald- Laurier Institute), Alanna Koch (Deputy Minister, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture), JoAnne Buth (Senator), Dr. Roberto Rodrigues (Brazil’s former Minister of Agriculture), Santiago del Sonar (Argentinean agronomist and farmer) and Amanda Lang (Senior business correspondent, CBC news). All speakers were informative and had expertise within the field of agriculture.

One main topic was the increase in demand for food.  The world’s population is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050. To be able to feed the extra 2 billion people on our planet by that time, we are going to need to be innovative. Frank McKenna highlighted in his keynote speech that “We don’t have adversity [in Canada] to spark innovation” and that “faced with adversity people find a way to get it done”. With an abundance of food in Canada, many don’t feel the rush to be innovative with food. Brian Lee Crowley noted the “perishable nature of opportunity” and that Canada has great opportunities in the food industry. He also explained that how global food scarcity could spark a review in regulations preventing innovation in agriculture such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The talks at the conference highlighted many interesting facts about demography. They  mentioned that in the coming years millions will be moving from rural areas to the cities. Speakers noted that city dwellers tend to want meat and other high protein food items causing a shift in demand to high protein in the future.

The students who attended found the conference very informative. Jack James, a student as well as an amateur dairy farmer, said that he “learned a lot about how the industry works, they focus more on the production than helping the farmers who produce.” Lydia Handforth mentioned “The conference was interesting. A lot of the speakers had really strong opinions along with great contributions.”

Agriculture is something that affects our daily lives; the opportunity for students to attend the conference was appreciated and it revealed many areas of opportunity for agricultural students to become involved – innovation, regulations, production, practical assistance to farmers and more. Remember, if you ate today- thank a farmer!