David Hansen is helping ensure a bright future for the Canadian cereals sector.
After sitting on the board of directors of Cereals Canada since its inception two years ago, CANTERRA SEEDS President and Chief Executive Officer David Hansen has been named the new chair of Canada’s cereals value chain organization.
Cereals Canada held its annual general meeting on April 11, electing a new board that will guide the organization for the next 24 months.
“It’s an exciting time — there’s a big focus being put on cereals now,” Hansen says. “It’s an important crop for the farmers in Western Canada. The global demand for high-quality grain is only going to continue to evolve.”
The mission of Cereals Canada is to enhance the competitiveness of the Canadian cereals industry by providing leadership on behalf of the value chain to key initiatives of common and strategic interest, including innovation, market development and advocacy.
Hansen comes to the roll of chairman with a lot of experience under his belt. He’s an industry veteran, his passion for cereals having taken him across Canada and internationally. He believes it’s crucial to play an active role serving the industry he loves so much.
“We have to do our part and stand in when we’re needed,” he says. “Everyone who works in this industry in whatever capacity plays an important role in ensuring its long-term success.”
Cereals Canada was created in response to the end of the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly in 2012. The cereals industry needed to create a new leadership organization that would focus on some of the key roles that had been previously filled by the CWB, like market development and research direction.
Enter Cereals Canada. Its creation two years ago was an opportunity for the industry to guide the growth and development of Canadian cereals research, production and market outreach and support — and Hansen looks forward to helping that continue.
“We’re a young organization. We have to continue working to establish Cereals Canada within the country, to be seen and appreciated as having a leadership role in the cereals industry. That’s important at the federal and provincial government levels. It takes work and time to build and establish those relationships,” he says.
Wheat is a huge part of CANTERRA SEEDS business, Hansen notes, and a hugely important crop in Canada and around the world.
In late 2015, Cereals Canada began its new crop missions, meeting with customers of Canadian wheat from Canada as well as in 20 countries. This is the second year that Cereals Canada has partnered with the Canadian International Grains Institute and the Canadian Grain Commission to present new crop seminars to customers for the benefit of the value chain, from producers to end users.
According to Hansen, Cereals Canada is working to ensure cereal crops are given the same attention as other classes of crops.
“Cereals haven’t had the level of investment that crops like corn, soybeans and canola had over the past number of decades,” Hansen says. “The cereals industry is really focusing on genetics and varietal development — all those factors will contribute to creating a high-value, competitive crop for producers.”
While there are some challenges ahead, Hansen is confident the industry will tackle them head-on and ensure a vibrant Canadian cereals sector. He’s encouraged by recent legislation — like Bill C-18 — that strengthens Canada’s intellectual property framework and helps cereal breeders create new cultivars that will provide the industry with valuable new traits that it’s looking for.
“There will be challenges around grain transportation and environmental issues, but the reality is Canada is very well positioned to be a known and competitive provider of high-quality cereals for the global market,” he says.