I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Curtis Rempel, the vice-president of crop production and innovation with the Canola Council of Canada, for an on-demand session for the Top Crop Summit. And if you’ve ever had a conversation with him, I’m sure you’ll understand why I say it was a pleasure.
Besides being a wealth of knowledge, Rempel offered a realistic perspective on growing canola, specifically regarding the challenges and opportunities that Canadian canola producers have faced and continue to deal with. Between trade disputes, disease risks and terrible weather, the last couple of years in particular haven’t been easy – and Rempel not only acknowledged that, but also offered support, encouragement and solutions.
I don’t want to spoil the whole interview – you’ll have to register for the Top Crop Summit, to be held Feb. 23 and 24, to see it for yourself (visit TopCropSummit.com to register and catch this and several other valuable sessions and conversations). But one highlight I will share was Rempel’s outlook on innovation, which I found to be especially poignant this time of year. When we chatted about some of the challenges for canola growers going into 2021, Rempel discussed several – weather, of course, among many others. But he was also quick to point out the myriad opportunities for canola growers, specifically surrounding biofuels and plant protein.
“There’s clearly a global trend for plant-based proteins. That doesn’t diminish animal proteins,” he said, quoting the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in saying highly bio-available protein is a basic human right. “That really has kicked off a renewed interest in protein,” he added. “It takes good protein to make good protein, so in the animal feed space, canola protein still has an amazing fit for monogastric, for dairy and for aquaculture.” And on the human side, as many look for other ways of increasing protein content in their own diets, Rempel recognizes that plant-based protein is clearly a staying trend.
As valuable as Rempel’s comments and advice were, what struck me most about our conversation was his realistic, practical and balanced approach, specifically by acknowledging both the challenges and opportunities growers are facing. Farming is hard. We can’t pretend the skies are always blue, but we can recognize that it’s not all doom and gloom either.
Unfortunately, in our current climate, encouragement can be hard to come by some days, especially without the regular opportunities to have great conversations with like-minded people. My interview with Rempel reminded me just how much I’m missing that this winter, especially without the usual conference circuit, and how I need to actively look for new opportunities to connect with the industry.
If you find yourself also missing out on real conversations right now, send me an email – I’d be happy to jump on a Zoom call with you. Sure, it’s not quite the same as chatting over a coffee break at a conference like we might normally do at this time of year, but with the right perspective, it’s the next best thing.