South Peace News
Will and Joan Petluk of P-Nutz Farm Inc. north of Nampa have won Farm Family of the year.
The Petluks are one of thirteen families in Alberta being recognized by the 2019 BMO Farm Family Awards. The other Peace Country winners are Bernard and Monique Maisonneuve of Fermes Maisonneuve in the M.D. of Smoky River, and Robert and Carrie Dickson of Mighty Peace Honey in the M.D. of Peace.
The awards have been held every year since 1969. According to the awards website, the Northern and Central Agricultural Service Boards select outstanding families who best represent values of the family farm within their rural community, honouring both their farming business practices and community involvement.
Although the award is officially for Will and Joan Petluk, their son Kyle and his wife Jasmine are also fully involved in managing the farm.
“Kyle and Jas, they represent the fourth generation of farmers in this particular area. I was a farmer, my Dad was a farmer, mygrandparents were farmers,” Will Petluk says. “What’s unique is that on both sides of our family is four generations of agriculture.”
The original Petluks settled in the Nampa area in 1945. Joan Petluk’s family, the Dumonts, farmed in the Whitemud area.
“We’ve grown up with agriculture. We’ve gone through several transitions from generation to generation, that’s part of the succession planning,” Will Petluk says.
Kyle Petluk completed a diploma in business at NAIT. In 2009 Kyle decided to farm full-time, and Will and Joan made the commitment to help Kyle and his wife Jasmine start managing the farm.
Will Petluk says in order to have the farm successfully transition, he knew he had to leave the main farm and establish his own farm site. Today’s award winning farm is kitty corner to the farm he grew up on.
“That was a very tough decision, because I was the oldest boy [in] a family of eight and five brothers, and at that time there was a lot of interest by my other brothers to also farm,” he says.
“That took a lot of work and a lot of extra money. It meant doubling of everything.”
Through the transition, the Petluks have managed their succession so that the family hasn’t split up. Instead all family members keep working together towards success, and Will Petluk says that’s why his family was nominated for the award.
“They saw that the transition was coming and that it is working effectively,” he says. “We respect each person’s contribution, and we respect each person’s opinion, and we try to have a consensus.”
“You don’t build millions of dollars of an operation for a flash in the pan,” says Joan Petluk. “It’s lifetime, it’s generational, and we’re hoping that we can have our little grandsons involved, and that’s really important to Will and I.”
She says that having good communication and being willing to make some sacrifices for the long term success of the family has been key.
“Joan and I have always put family first,” Will agrees. “In order to be able to put your family first, you’ve got to have your family geographically close to you. So if you’re not compared to make concessions, they have other choices in life.”
Will points out that both Kyle and Jasmine are educated and could make careers elsewhere.
“There’s nothing keeping them here other than the farm,” he says.
Jasmine’s family is also supportive of the farm, with her father pitching in to help combine and other families helping with the kids when Kyle is busy.
Besides working together across generations, the Petluks say there are some other things they do that make their farm different.
“We’ve been innovative on this farm. I think we were some of the first people in the area to use equipment on tracks,” Will Petluk says.
The Petluks also use a lot of European equipment. Their grain dryer is from the UK and their combines are German.
“We’re not loyal to any single colour, we want to find what’s the best in the marketplace for each item, so we are running a multi-coloured operation because we are picking the best components,” says Kyle Petluk .
“That grain dryer is state-of-the-art, and of course coming from Europe it is so energy efficient,” Will Petluk says. “We’re concerned about the environment. We practice sustainable agriculture here.”
The Petluks even have a grain monitoring system to ensure the quality of the food they are producing.
Kyle Petluk has also been busy applying what he learned in business school, and the operation has expanded to almost four times its original size since he committed to farming full time.
“I want to take it and grow with it,” he says.
“We were 2300 acres when he came in 2009, and now we’re over 10,000,” Will Petluk says.
Will Petluk’s knowledge of accounting has also helped guide and support the operation on the financial side.
After all, farming these days is big business, says Joan, before summing up how the family feels about becoming award recipients.
“We have an exciting future,” she says.
The BMO Farm Family Awards program will be held in conjunction with Farmfair International on Nov. 9 at the Edmonton Expo Centre. Northern Sunrise County will be covering the Petluk family’s travel costs to the event.