Andre Harpe takes over for Jeff Nielsen
By Diego Flammini
One Alberta farmer is taking over for another as chair of Grain Growers of Canada (GGC).
During its annual general meeting last week, GGC’s board of directors elected Andre Harpe, a cash crop grower from Valhalla Centre, as the organization’s next chair.
Harpe replaces Olds, Alta. farmer Jeff Nielsen, who served as chair for the last two years.
“I’m extremely honoured to have received the support from the board,” Harpe told Farms.com.
Harpe has been involved in ag policy and advocacy formally and informally for several years and is currently a board member with the Alberta Canola Producers Commission.
“The more you get involved, the more you realize there’s more to be involved with and the more you want to know,” he said.
Harpe takes the chairmanship of the organization at an interesting time.
The industry is facing more scrutiny from the government and the public, the country is still trying to function during a pandemic and business risk management programs are being discussed, he said.
A rational approach to these topics is necessary to achieve the desired outcomes.
“I’ve always tried to use common sense,” he said. “When it comes to business risk management, for example, we haven’t had an offer to improve BRM since 2013. There is an offer on the table now. Is it what we want? No, but it is an offer and I hope everyone takes it seriously.”
The first order of business for the organization after a Christmas break will be to chart its path forward.
While COVID-19 will be part of the discussion, it may not dominate the talks, Harpe said.
“Life is going to continue and so is the grain industry,” he said. “I think we’ll spend some time on farm safety and also regulation and how to work with the Canadian government.”
The board of directors also elected two new vice-chairs during GGC’s AGM.
William Van Tassel, a producer from Lac-Saint-Jean, Que. and Brendan Phillips, a grower from Hartney, Man. will serve as first and second vice-chairs, respectively.