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The Grains in Action Experience

Blog post by Natalie Walt, Grains in Action 2016 participant

February 23, 2016 Over four days in February, I had the opportunity to spend time with 30 peers from assorted backgrounds from across the grain industry. We toured Southwestern Ontario learning about the grain production process and how it moves from farm to fork or a variety of other end uses.

grains in action participants

We were given in-depth tours and presentations at Ontario grain elevators, port terminals, an ethanol plant, and a flour mill. I currently work in agribusiness in grain merchandising, so the information presented was highly relevant to understanding how my role fits into the bigger picture of the grain industry.

Most interesting to me was the flour mill in Cambridge, owned by Parrish & Heimbecker. We were given a top-down tour of the 200 year old mill, explaining the processes the kernels of wheat go through in order to be ground into a usable product for industrial, retail, and food service customers. I also learned about the various market classes of wheat within Ontario. Each of these classes have a unique set of traits that affect their milling characteristics Some are great for cakes and pastries, while others are more suited for crackers and flatbreads.

grains in action 2016

The most entertaining stop of the tour was undoubtedly Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd. in Windsor. Master Blender, Dr. Don Livermore took us through a fascinating and lively presentation on the history of whisky and how Canadian farmers contributed to the rise in popularity of this beverage. He explained how Canadian grains are perfectly blended to create a flavour profile that is unique from other countries' version of this drink.

Grains in Action 2016

Monday, February 1 to Thursday, February 4, 2016


February 1, 2016

2:15pm Registration open:
Arrive and check in to hotel, Delta Guelph Hotel & Conference Centre.
2:45pm Program starts:
Welcome and objectives with Meghan Burke, Manager Communications (Grain Farmers of Ontario); group photo and participant introductions.

Opening remarks:
Barry Senft, CEO (Grain Farmers of Ontario); Mark Brock, Chair (Grain Farmers of Ontario).

Organizational and strategic overview:
Ryan Brown, Vice President Operations (Grain Farmers of Ontario); Todd Younghans, Vice President Strategic Development (Grain Farmers of Ontario).
3:30pm Industry partner presentations:
Agricorp; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission; Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Rural Affairs.
5:30pm Meet and Greet Mixer:
With Spirits Canada.
6:30pm Dinner

February 2, 2016

7:00am Breakfast at hotel
8:00am Market Development:
Nicole Mackellar, Manager Market Development (Grain Farmers of Ontario).
8:20am Wheat Marketing presentation:
Todd Austin, Manager of Marketing (Grain Farmers of Ontario).
8:45am Check out of hotel and board bus 
9:00am Travel to IGPC, Aylmer ON
10:30am Tour of IGPC facilities
12:00pm Travel to Sarnia Grain Terminal, Sarnia ON:
Lunch on the bus.
1:30pm Tour of Sarnia Grain Terminal, Sarnia ON
3:00pm  Travel to Windsor ON 
5:00pm Check in to hotel:
Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Windsor (Ambassador Bridge).
6:00pm Dinner at hotel 

February 3, 2016

7:00am Breakfast at hotel
8:30am Canadian Grain Commission (CGC)
9:00am Check out of hotel and board bus
9:15am Travel to ADM, Windsor ON
9:30am Tour of ADM, Windsor ON
10:45am Board bus and travel to Hiram Walker, Windsor ON:
Lunch on the bus.
11:30am Tour of Hiram Walker
1:30pm Board bus and travel to Ridgetown ON
3:00pm Ridgetown:
Meet and greet with researchers at University of Guelph.
4:30pm Board bus and travel to London ON
5:30pm Dinner at Tony Roma's, London ON:
Special guests: Dave McEachren, past participant and Dupont Young Leader Program.
7:00pm Board bus and travel to Cambridge ON
8:15pm Check into hotel:
Sheraton 4 Points, Cambridge Hespeler-Galt.

February 4, 2016

7:00am Breakfast at hotel
8:00am Check out of hotel and board bus
8:15am Travel to P&H Milling, Cambridge ON
8:30am Tour of P&H Milling facility
10:00am Board bus and travel to Springfield Golf and Country Club, Guelph ON
11:00am Research:
Josh Cowan, Manager Research (Grain Farmers of Ontario).

Government Relations and Communications:
Debra Conlon, Manager Government Relations (Grain Farmers of Ontario); Meghan Burke, Manager Communications (Grain Farmers of Ontario).
12:30pm Lunch
1:15pm Closing remarks
2:00pm Board bus and travel to Delta Guelph Hotel & Conference Centre, Guelph ON
2:30pm Program end:
Pick up vehicle at hotel.

Want to learn more?

Do you want to learn more about Grains in Action? Do you want to participate in a future offering of the course? For more details, contact:

Maegan MacKimmie

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