The “Under One Roof” theme signified the gathering together of the full spectrum of research conducted at the University of Saskatchewan that’s related to the livestock and forage industries.
For keynote speaker Anne Wasko, the theme triggered her to challenge producers to coordinate and collaborate with a broader group of people and organizations.
“We often think as producers, and I’m a producer myself, that we need to talk to one another, but we need to talk to the entire supply chain and beyond,” said Wasko, in an interview after her keynote address.
“There are oodles of opportunities up and down the supply chain, and some of them are closer to our consumers. We can’t do it on our own.”
Wasko says that’s why producers need environmental non-governmental organizations, such as Ducks Unlimited, as well as influencers and amplifiers to help tell the beef cattle story.
“Consumers are simply asking questions about their food. We need to be ready to answer those questions: how the animals are raised, how are they treated, how do we take care of the land and the water.”
The afternoon Pens, Plots and Paddocks tour provided ample opportunities for producers as well as industry and government folks to learn about advances being made through research. Topics ranged from soil and environmental research to animal behaviour and welfare to forage and feed options. With four stops featuring 14 research projects (view program) in four-and-a-half hours, it might have felt like a marathon of an afternoon. Having access to the scientists for questions and clarifications was invaluable, says Wasko, a well-known market analyst who ranches with her husband Barry at Eastend and is the chair of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.
“When I put on my producer hat, it was an opportunity to learn and see these research projects firsthand in the field, not in a lab and not in a research paper. And we were able to give and get immediate feedback.”
Approximately 250 people participated in the day, which started with coffee and a tradeshow with booths from more than 20 sponsors. In addition to Wasko’s presentation in the morning session, the LFCE Strategic Advisory Board chair Duane Thompson recognized the contributions of the Western Beef Development Centre when he and PAMI president and CEO Dave Gullacher unveiled the WBDC/PAMI Way honorific road sign that will be erected on a roadway at the Forage Cow-Calf Research and Teaching Unit. LFCE director Dr. Kris Ringwall (PhD) provided an update on the centre that’s not quite one-year old! He was pleased with the huge turnout.
“The breadth of people in attendance – producers, industry and government – and their engagement with this cross-section of livestock and forage research was outstanding,” said Ringwall.
“The ability to breath and smell and feel the research going on in the pens and the fields is essential.”
The day was also an excellent opportunity to network during coffee, the lunch, or while riding on the bus for the afternoon Pens, Plots and Paddocks tour.