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Ontario producers involved in 2018 ASA DuPont Young Leader Program
Ontario producers involved in 2018 ASA DuPont Young Leader Program

Ann and Jeff Vermeersch are the only Canadian participants in the program

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter

Cash croppers from Tillsonburg, Ont. are the Canadian representatives in the American Soybean Association (ASA) DuPont Young Leader Program.

Ann and Jeff Vermeersch, who farm about 1,000 acres of cash crops while running a full-service Pioneer Hi-Bred dealership, applied for the program through Grain Farmers of Ontario.

The Vermeerschs already attended the first phase of the training.

In late November, they participated in professional development workshops in Johnston, Iowa to learn how to meet the needs of an ever-changing industry.

“There was some communication training and we looked at a lot of soybean industry issues, especially with trade,” Ann told today. “Americans are very concerned with NAFTA in particular.”

And at a time when consumers appear to be more food conscious than ever, farmers need to be well equipped to answer questions and educate the public.

“We need to be able to tell our stories and articulate ourselves as professionals,” she said. “Agriculture is a sophisticated industry. We use technology to grow food and farmers care about consumers. Gone are the days of the traditional stereotype of farmers in overalls.”

From the on-farm side of the training, there is a big focus on technology in the soybean industry.

Producers heard from their peers about the challenges with weed control and the issues surrounding dicamba in some American states.

“Ontario is kind of in its infancy for introducing dicamba technology but farmers in some southern states were using it consistently last year,” she said. “It’s good for us to understand what those farmers are going through because it gives us the knowledge to come back to our regions and contribute to the industry more effectively.”

The next phase of training in the Young Leader Program takes place at the 2018 Commodity Classic in Anaheim, CA from Feb. 25 to 28.

Top photo: Ann and Jeff Vermeersch with their children
Photo: Good In Every Grain