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Top Employers Influence Change within HR at the 2007 Canadian Ag and Food HR Roundtable
October 10, 2007

Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON -- “Meeting the needs of a global population through careers in agriculture and food is a noble endeavor,” said Keynote speaker Wendell Joyce, Canadian Farm Business Management Council.  Joyce set the stage for a very productive and informational 2007 Ag and Food HR Roundtable.
The Roundtable, held September 24 – 26, 2007 in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, brought together over 60 human resource professionals, university personnel and managers to discuss high interest issues surrounding recruitment and retention within the industry.  Monday the conference kicked off with a Welcome Reception sponsored by Pioneer.  This informal session began the networking and discussion to get the wheels turning for the full day of informational talks the following day.
Joyce helped guests look at the positives of Canadian agriculture and the bright future as a source of employment, but he challenged participants to ponder what can be done to ensure a healthy future for the industry.  A point that Joyce highlighted was the need for better management of agriculture human resources and he walked through Gallup’s list of 12 factors for job satisfaction.
Carolyn Puterbough an Agriculture Development Officer with the City of Kawartha Lakes covered ‘Current Trends of the Agriculture Economy.’  While Puterbough had a lot of statistics to cover, she fostered great discussion and group interaction.  According to Puterbough’s research there are 229,373 farms in Canada which is slightly down from years past.  An additional graph depicted the many varieties of agriculture and food in Canada.  The group discussed forces influencing agriculture – items listed included organics, niche markets, diversity, local vs. global, ethanol, global competition and youth leaving the industry.  To conclude Puterbough covered some of the ‘hot jobs’ in agriculture, such as IT Project Managers, R&D Scientists – Ethanol, and Environmental Manager.
One of the highlights of the Roundtable was the smaller group discussions and our three breakout sessions.  Presenter Leslie Stanier of Cargill AgHorizons walked her group through ‘Women in Agriculture’.  This discussion revolved around how to get more women into agriculture; how to foster a culture that suits women; and how to excel women into management rolls.  The second session was led by Rob Hall of TD Canada Trust as he took participants through ‘Recruitment-It’s Not Only the Candidate.’  Hall took his breakout group through a series of group activities to get people thinking about how to modify workplace culture to make recruitment easier.  He also shared a number of success stories and ideas from TD Canada Trust.  Finally, Matthew Mihailovich of Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP shared a number of updates on ‘New Recruiting and HR Policy’.  Participants of this session were brought up to speed on new developments within the industry when it comes to labor law.
The final presenter of the day, Amy Kesler of Case New Holland, shared with Roundtable participants the importance of communication and some ideas for how to go about connecting with the workforce.  Kesler elaborated on three main ideas around communication in the workplace: providing employees with information; listening to what employees are saying; and involve employees with execution of corporate strategies.
While the educational aspect of the Roundtable is fundamental to the success of the event, participants also appreciated the many networking activities.  On Tuesday evening, attendees had a perfect opportunity to do so during a lovely winery tour and dinner at Chateau des Charmes.
Wednesday kicked off with a

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