A Rousing Success

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Ron Howard (right) received recognition for his many years of service to the Alberta potato industry at the annual Alberta potato conference and trade show banquet. Presenting the award was Russ Stewart, president of the Alberta Potato Industry Association.

[deck]A report from Alberta’s annual potato conference and trade show hosted by the Potato Growers of Alberta and the Alberta Potato Industry Association.[/deck]

The Potato Growers of Alberta hosted its 47th annual conference at the Deerfoot Inn & Casino in Calgary from Nov. 19 to 21. Mother Nature made it challenging for travel; however, 288 delegates braved the elements and managed to attend.

The keynote speaker, Mark Lynas, was sponsored by ATB Financial and the PGA. Lynas is a world-renowned speaker and an expert on climate change, biotechnology and nuclear power, whose presentation Sustainable Agriculture: Science Myths, Organic Farming and GMOs explored current practices and what the future holds.

Other presentations included: Use of Phosphites for Managing Potato Diseases by Dr. Rick Peters of AAFC; Evaluation of Sanitization Procedures for Potato Storages by Dr. Ron Howard of Alberta, Agriculture and Rural Development; The North America Potato Market by Dr. Joe Guenthner of the University of Idaho; and Farm Succession Planning by Coady Cormier of RBC Dominion Securities.

Tuesday, Nov. 21, was the seed industry meeting, and it included a panel discussion about breeding programs in Canada. Panel members included: Dr. Benoit Bizimungu of AAFC; private breeder Dr. Robert Coffin; Jeanne Debons of the Potato Variety Management Institute; and Cecil Goutbeck of Alberta Seed Potato Inc.

The research meeting showcased presentations on research projects funded by the PGA. Six researchers presented their work and answered questions.

There was standing room only for the meeting to discuss the fresh potato industry in Alberta. The discussion involved packers and growers, and resulted in an excellent platform to move forward.

iClickers were used for the first time at this year’s conference. Used for voting and to collect information for future research projects, iClickers are electronic handheld voting devices that allow delegates to answer multiple-choice questions. It is a confidential way for participants to vote, and encourages more delegates to be involved.

Trade Show

The trade show was once again a huge success with 36 exhibitors. The Alberta Potato Industry Association organizes and manages the trade show and it is an invaluable partner with the PGA to ensure the conference is a success.

A total of 43 women registered for the Partner Program and were treated to a ladies-only viewing of the trade show and also participated in a Survivor Challenge team building activity at Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park.

At the banquet hosted jointly by the PGA and APIA, the new PGA board of directors was introduced.  John Bareman is the chairman and Laus Stiekema is the vice-chair. Jake Hoogland and Albert Ypma are the North Area directors, Jake Schutter is a South Area director, and Louis Ypma and Chris Perry are directors at large.

The banquet also saw Ron Howard recognized for his many years of service to the Alberta potato industry and agriculture in general. He is scheduled to retire in the New Year after 38 years working in the industry.

The PGA wishes to extend a big thanks to all the sponsors, as without their contribution the conference would not be the success it is. Plans are already underway for the 2014 PGA Conference to be held at the Sheraton Hotel in Red Deer, Alta., from Nov. 18 to 20.  Hope to see you there!

Submitted by Potato Growers of Alberta staff

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