Pulse Beat Individual Articles

Soy Canada: Manitoba Farmers Poised to Play Role in Soybean Success Story

Brian Innes, Executive Director, Soy Canada – Fall/Winter (December) Pulse Beat 2021

Introducing Soy Canada’s new Executive Director, Brian Innes

In May of this year, Brian Innes joined Soy Canada as its Executive Director, replacing Ron Davidson. In his role as Executive Director, he leads the organization’s efforts to create value through collaboration in the areas of industry leadership, market access, market development as well as coordinating research and innovation.

Prior to joining Soy Canada, he led the Canola Council’s public affairs activities, including communications, government relations, market access and trade policy. During his time at the Council, he spearheaded the expansion of the Keep it Clean program to include multiple commodities, led the development of the industry’s market access strategy, led efforts to resolve market access issues and was active to help the agri-food sector achieve benefits from free-trade negotiations through the Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance.

Brian has also served as a senior consultant with the Ottawa office of an international public affairs firm working with food, agri-business, healthcare and mining clients. In this role, he helped manage food safety risk communication and helped clients achieve their legislative, regulatory and reputational goals with government officials and politicians. Brian also worked on Parliament Hill for the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of National Defence and an Industry Critic.

Manitoba Farmers Poised to Play Role in Soybean Success Story

I’m excited to continue working for you in my new role as Executive Director of Soy Canada.

Since joining the organization earlier this year, I’m excited for how we’re going to build our soybean industry from our strong foundation. But before describing how we’re building a stronger soybean industry, let’s take stock of what we’ve already got going for us.

We have a crop that’s an important part of the rotation to maximize returns and manage risk, especially when we can’t predict what the growing season will be like when the seed goes into the ground. We have a changing climate that favours crops like soybeans that can tolerate heat and moisture. In soybeans, we have a crop that produces the ideal protein for people and animals and is a source of healthy oil in a world that is demanding more and more healthy choices.

Most importantly, soybeans have what is required for a value-chain organization such as Soy Canada to deliver results. We have producer groups committed to working together, a long history of food-grade exporters coming together, seed companies committed to growth and value, as well as processors and exporters committed to working with their partners to get the most for the crop.

This is not to say the industry doesn’t have a few challenges. But understanding what we need to succeed as a small portion of global supply on the fringes of the crop’s adaptability helps us be laser-focused and deliver results.

With this foundation, and my excite­ment, you may wonder what we’re doing together?

First, our greatest growth potential is our ability to grow more soybeans and get more value from the soybeans we already grow in western Canada. As a relative newcomer, I’ve noticed we’ve had some challenges achieving consistent protein levels. We’ve started on a path to increase protein and there’s lots of research underway.

As a small player in the global market, being different can easily be seen as inferior, especially if we don’t spend the time as a value chain to coordinate.

Soy Canada will be active in connecting the dots so that we align our supply chain with the value the customer sees, sharing information so that we’re getting the most value possible from our crop. Our upcoming Northern Soybean Summit in January will be a key meeting point for our value chain to come together to share and tackle this challenge.

Second, we’ve got a world-leading food-grade business and we need to stay on top. To stay on top, we need to have a clear message about how our beans meet our customers’ quality needs, including increasing questions about how we grow our beans sustainably. We can’t rest on our laurels. We need to be active and organized to show our customers what they’re getting when purchasing Canadian soybeans. As more new varieties adapted to Manitoba come to market, there’s an increasing opportunity for Manitoba farmers to become part of this long-standing Canadian success story.

Third, we’re going to be there when the soybean industry needs leadership. We will step up and bring together our value chain when there’s an opportunity we can’t grasp without multiple players. We will step up when there’s a market-access issue for Canadian soybeans. We will step up when Canadian soybeans are challenged at home or abroad. One area you’ll be hearing more from us on is how we better position our soybeans with customers who now see soybeans from other countries as more sustainable than Canadian soybeans.

The phrase “value chain” gets repeated a lot. With a short history and a diverse soybean industry across Canada, Soy Canada will be focused on what’s valuable to our customers and working together to deliver those things. We’ll be working together to manage the risks and seize the opportunity in our path.

And most importantly, collaboration with other agri-food organizations is an essential part of how we’ll work for you. We recognize that almost all farmers grow more than one crop. The livelihoods of our seed companies, producers, exporters and processors depend on more than one oilseed.

I’m excited about the potential for soybeans in Canada. As such a young organization, our future is still being written. I’m excited to be part of it and look forward to creating value out of our supply chain.