New farmers on governance
This past fall, the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley held regional meetings across Alberta. A portion of these meetings included the nomination and election of multiple Albertan producers to join the commissions’ farmer governance in open positions such as directors, regional representatives and delegates.
Both directors and delegates remain in office for three years following the annual region meeting at which they were elected. Director responsibilities include: governance of commission leadership, making decisions on behalf of farmers, and implementing the commission’s strategic direction. Delegate roles include representing wheat or barley producers within their respective regions, assisting the commissions with the organization of their regional meetings and serving on board committees. Both directors and delegates may be appointed by their respective boards to serve on external committees, groups or organizations of which AWC or Alberta Barley is a member.
With all regional meetings and elections now behind us, we are pleased to introduce the new members of the commissions’ regional governance: Jamie Christie, Cam MacFarquhar, Jesse Meyer, Marvin Neumann, Stewart Oke, and Austin Vavrek.
Stewart Oke, Director
Region 3, AWC
Farming alongside his father Cameron, near Delburne, Alberta, Stewart Oke is a Region 3 director with AWC, having previous experience as a regional representative. Stewart is a fourth-generation farmer and grows wheat, barley and canola with his wife Tamara and their three kids, Danielle, Natasha and Eric. Although he spent 22 years working in personal banking while farming at the same time, he’s always known his one true calling has been to farm full-time. “I’ve still got the ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ sheet in a scrapbook from when
I was in kindergarten and my answer then was ‘farmer’,” says Stewart. When the opportunity to farm full-time presented itself, he leapt at the chance to live out his childhood dream. “I consider it an honour to farm and continue on the heritage that has been passed on through generations. We operate with the values of faith, family and farming. My family and I feel blessed and are thankful for the land to grow our crops and help feed the world.” Recognizing a need for younger farmers to step up and get involved with the commissions, Stewart looks to bridge the gap between multiple generations of farmers and encourage more engagement. He is also looking forward to learning new ways to make the industry more productive and sustainable while becoming more involved in areas such as: governance, strategy and supply chain issues.
“I consider it an honour to farm and continue on the heritage that has been passed on through generations.” – Stewart Oke
Cam MacFarquhar, Delegate
Region 2, Alberta Barley
Cam MacFarquhar is a fifth-generation farmer joining Alberta Barley as a Region 2 delegate. Cam and his father, Bill, currently farm together near Cremona, Alberta, along with Cam’s mother Barb, his wife Marcie- Rae and two kids, Josephine and Ewan. Their operation primarily focuses on grain production and pedigreed seed. A man of many hats, Cam worked as a helicopter mechanic out of high school before pursuing a finance degree. However, in his own words, he “got bored each time” before returning to his true calling of running the family farm. His father had previous involvement with different boards and commissions, which led to an easy decision for him to get involved. As a delegate, Cam hopes to help grow producer engagement, especially among the current and next-generation of Albertan farmers. He also looks forward to helping advise on policy decisions and research.
Austin Vavrek, Delegate
Region 5, Alberta Barley
Serving as a new barley delegate, Austin Vavrek is a fourth-generation farmer based near Sexsmith, Alberta. Austin runs his 4,000 acre farm with his wife Lauren and their infant son Brandt, his parents Tom and Noreen and his brother Colin. In addition to having worked on the farm for most of his life, Austin holds a diploma in Crop Technology from Lakeland College and spent seven years working in retail for Nutrien Ag Solutions. During his time there, he also received his designation as a certified crop advisor. This past fall, he left Nutrien to farm full-time while working as a community builder for Farmers Business Network. Austin was inspired to become involved with the commissions through his neighbour, current AWC chair Greg Sears.
“You need wise individuals in these roles to keep agriculture’s direction on the right path and defend it when necessary.” – Austin Vavrek
Marvin Neumann, Delegate
Region 5, Alberta Barley
Marvin Neumann is a second-generation farmer based near Barrhead, Alberta, who is joining Alberta Barley as a region 5 delegate. Running a multi-faceted operation with his wife Deborah and a couple of seasonal helpers, Neumann grows barley, wheat, canola, oats and hay while also looking after his 150 head of cattle. After spending 40 years working as a project manager/director for land development projects in central Alberta, Neumann decided he wanted to “stop turning beautiful farmland into parking lots” and instead protect and nurture the land around him for future generations. After attending Agri-Trade this past November and meeting people from the commissions, he was encouraged to attend his regional meeting to see first-hand what the commissions can do for local farmers. Passionate about sustainability, efficiency and innovation, Neumann is eager to see how technological advancements and renewable energy sources can be put to use on the farm.
Jesse Meyer, Regional Representative
Region 5, AWC
Jesse Meyer joins AWC as a regional representative in Region 5. Jesse’s family emigrated from Switzerland and settled in the Peace Region in the early 80’s, which provides the foundation for their farm today. As one of the primary managers of the farm, he works alongside his siblings Samy, Tracy and Stefan, his wife Kendra and the newest to the crew, their son George. Jesse learned from his father Leo Meyer, who was always involved on agriculture boards on both a provincial and national level. “We learned from a young age the importance of these groups and the value of being involved in them to help improve the agriculture industry,” says Jesse.
After graduating from Olds College in 2011 with a diploma in Agriculture Management, Jesse went back to the family farm while he worked as a territory manager for Canterra Seeds in the Peace Region for over eight years. Jesse also brings his experience from Alberta Barley and SARDA Ag Research to the table. With a passion for family, community and agriculture, he is excited for this new chapter with AWC.
Jamie Christie, Delegate
Region 2, Alberta Barley
Farming near Trochu, Alberta, Jamie Christie is a fourth-generation farmer serving as a Region 2 delegate with Alberta Barley. Alongside his wife Laura and parents Wade and Margaret, Jamie primarily grows barley, canola, peas and wheat. Having wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps since he was three years old, Jamie is honored to take over the family business and continue what his great grandfather started when he immigrated to Canada from Scotland many years ago. “It’s both a privilege and responsibility to uphold, I’ve never had a thought of doing anything else,” says Jamie. He felt it was important to take on the role of delegate to ensure the growers in his region stayed connected and informed. He looks forward to seeing through the upcoming amalgamation of the two commissions and the structural changes that will bring.
We are very excited to work with our new directors and delegates, as well as the other members of our boards and regional governance as we work towards a productive and bountiful 2023 for Albertan wheat and barley farmers.