SARDA’s AGM and Extension Event took place on February 21 from 8.30 am to 3pm at the Centre Chevaliers in Falher.
The new board appointed at the meeting consists of Audrey Gall, (Chairman) – Brianne Brault (Vice Chairman) – Michel Benoit (Secretary) – and in accordance with the by-law/ policy, SARDA manager Vance Yaremko is Treasurer.
Municipal representatives are Donald Gosse- lin (MD Smoky River) – Ron Matula (Big Lakes County) – Doug Dallyn (Northern Sunrise County) – Dale Smith (MD Greenview)
Producer directors – Harris Krawchuk, Ken- ny Stewart, Luc Leves- que, Leonard Desharn- ais and Lionel Gauthier
The Priorities for SARDA in the coming year, outlined by the Board Chairman, Audrey Gall is to host its 2017 Agricultural Tradeshow on March 16 to 18 at Falher Regional Recreation Complex, Falher.
Another immediate objective is for the board to focus on completing its review of the policy manual, which was started in 2016.
An extensive project is to sign a contract with a successful bidder for the construction of a new, non-heated equipment storage shed, which will also require yard preparation and landscaping to facilitate construction.
The call for the new shed arose when local farmer and former MLA, Hector Goudreau sold his property, SARDA lost easy access to equipment storage space.
The new shed will serve to protect some very expensive equipment from the elements and mitigate the possibility of vandalism and theft that have proved costly to SARDA over the past 2 years.
The new building will increase staff productivity as equipment repairs and plot preparation tasks can be done more efficiently.
The storage shed is phase one of a three part, long-term strategic plan developed by the Board of Directors.
The second phase is to create a design for the shop/office building, develop and carryout an advocacy plan to increase awareness of SARDA’s value and activities in order to attract the additional funding required to fulfill the organization’s vision. That vision is for SARDA to own an advanced agriculture resource centre of excellence.
At the AGM there were a few minor changes to the By-Law but nothing substantive. Changes include facilitating the expansion of the number of Board members to allow the County of Grande Prairie #1 a chair at the table.
Initially SARDA’s involvement with the County of Grande Prairie was extension related, with their producers receiving copies of the Back Forty Newsletter and SARDA coordinating some workshops for their producers.
In 2016, their council increased its funding support in line with the other municipalities and asked SARDA to deliver the same services in their area as in the other Municipalities.
Some other modifications to the By-Law clearly define the number of days notice required to hold a meeting: 8 days for a regular meeting and 21 days for the AGM.
Other By-Law items set out a precise definition of when the Chairman is allowed to vote, and email was added as one of the acceptable methods of delivering information to the membership.
SARDA’s long-standing mission statement is “To facilitate the transfer of unbiased ideas and information between research institutions, industry and agricultural producers,” and the organization’s Vision Statement is “to own an advanced agricultural resource centre of excellence, was put into words approximately 2 years ago.”
Both the mission and vision statements reflect SARDA’s principle objectives:
1) Provide accurate, timely information to our membership free of “salesmanship bias”
2) Vet agronomic concepts, ideas and occasionally equipment for suitability/adaptability in our memberships’ area
3) Establish the suitability of crops, varieties of crop and production techniques that benefit the financial outcome of our producer members
“Economists have shown that if a producer can reduce input costs by 5%, increase yields by 5% and gain 5% when they take their products to market the net impact to their bank account can be as high as 117% gain. At SARDA, we believe we can assist producers achieve a 5% reduction in input costs and a 5% yield increase through the work we do.”
The guest speakers following the AGM were agronomy research scientist Sheri Strydhorst of Agriculture and Fosestry who gave a presentation on advanced agronomy. Ken Coles from Farming Smarter spoke on night spraying and Robyne Bowness also from Agriculture and Forestry spoke on growing red lentils in the Peace River region.