CEREALS CANADA PRESIDENT HAS DEEP ROOTS IN AGRICULTURE
By Tyler Difley
Cam Dahl, president of Cereals Canada, is no stranger to the agriculture industry. In fact, he has been immersed in it his entire life, and he would not have it any other way.
“Agriculture is a really exciting place to be, especially now, and it’s getting more and more exciting all the time,” Dahl said. “If you look at where agriculture in Canada was 50 years ago and where it is today, the change is enormous.”
Dahl grew up on a mixed farm in Swan River, MB, and attended the University of Manitoba, where he received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and a master’s in agricultural economics. Since then, he has held a variety of positions with several agricultural organizations and companies including serving as the chair of the board of the Canadian International Grains Institute, appointed Commissioner of the Canadian Grain Commission, and a position with Agricore United. He is also the past president of the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame, and served as the executive director of Grain Growers of Canada.
In March, Dahl joined Cereals Canada, the latest entry on his long resume of industry involvement. The move represents a return to the grain sector for Dahl, who was previously general manager of the Manitoba Beef Producers.
“There’s just so much opportunity and change happening right now in the grain industry,” he said. “The cereals sector especially is very much in a time of transition, and the opportunity to help with that transition and to build Cereals Canada was an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up.”
Cereals Canada’s board of directors is comprised of farmers, life science and seed companies, grain handlers, exporters and processors – groups that are all part of the entire value chain, and all with equal representation around the Board table. That equality of representation is deliberate to ensure that the views of all parts of the value chain are heard as Cereals Canada works to advance the cereals sector. The national organization based in Winnipeg, MB, aims to improve the competitiveness of the Canadian cereals industry.
“I think it’s very much that co-ordinating role, attempting to ensure that we do have that common message and common approach and common voice,” Dahl said. “We have the entire value chain together and that’s something that’s enormously valuable, and in the cereals sector that hasn’t really happened before.”
The Cereals Canada board has developed a strategic plan with emphasis on leadership, innovation and market development in the cereals industry, Dahl said.
“The long-run vision is to ensure that we have an industry that is growing and profitable in a sustainable way for all links in the value chain, and that cereal crops are a first choice for production in Canada,” he added. “The potential if we can do that is enormous.”
In terms of the likelihood of seeing that vision become reality, Dahl is optimistic about the prospects of the Canadian cereals industry going forward.
“Canada has a very good reputation for delivering those quality characteristics our customers are looking for,” he said. “We have an ability to segregate our products and then deliver to specific customer needs like no other country. We have a strong science-based regulatory system. So, we have a very solid foundation to move forward.”
However, Dahl cautioned those in the industry against taking that reputation for granted.
“The transportation troubles that we had the last year definitely put our reputation as a supplier at risk,” he said. “We can’t just sit back and say, ‘we have a good reputation.’ We have to ensure we maintain that reputation and build on what our customers need.”