Your Farm Voice: Curtis McRae – MB Farmer Representative for Canola Council of Canada
Curtis McRae is a grain farmer from St. Andrews, Manitoba. Curtis and his family farm nearly 5,000 acres of canola, wheat, corn, soybeans and cattle. From an early age Curtis discovered his passion for farming and has grown into a valuable, active representative for Manitoba producers.
Curtis joined the Manitoba Canola Growers Board of Directors in 2016. He is now Treasurer, the chair of the Governance and Finance committee, part of the Member Relations committee, and represents MCGA on the Canola Council of Canada board of directors.
When he is not busy on the farm, Curtis enjoys spending time with his family and practicing judo.
Q&A with Curtis
Q: What is your favourite piece of technology and why?
A: My favourite piece of technology would still be GPS. In saying that, the things we can do with GPS is expanding every year getting me closer to being a couch farmer.
Q: How do you celebrate agriculture?
A: Every meal we celebrate agriculture by eating. It’s tough to celebrate something that makes up your everyday life, but maybe we should.
Full support from canola seed to oil
The Canola Council of Canada (CCC) supports the entire canola value chain — growers, seed developers, processors and exporters of canola and its products. Through core funding from the three provincial grower groups (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta), exporters and life science companies, the CCC encompasses every step from the seed to oil.
“The CCC board of directors brings the four corners of canola production together – farmers, crop science people, crushers and exporters,” explains Curtis McRae, MCGA director, Treasurer and CCC board member. “Ideally we try to effectively distribute our research and canola promotion efforts to all aspects of the industry we’re trying to touch. I’m there to be sure farmers voices are heard and to give direction on future agricultural practices farmers are looking at.”
From boots on the ground working to keep trade doors open to an agronomy team spread across the Prairies supporting farmers, the CCC are working to advance the growth and profitability of the canola industry.
Canada exports over 90% of its canola as seed, oil or meal to 50 markets throughout the world. The CCC has staff dedicated to resolving market access issues in key markets so Canadian farmers can earn the most value for canola exports and continue to grow the canola industry.
In addition, a 41% of the core funding is invested in research projects and extension, improving profitability and sustainability, exploring health benefits of canola oil, increasing feed inclusion levels and value, and much more.
“I think the biggest influence for farmers is the CCC agronomy team,” says McRae. “The agronomy team offers boots on the ground across the country testing for disease pressure and is the first to the scene when there’s a disease or insect outbreak that may affect our canola crop.”
For example, if there’s been an outbreak, threat or revelation in another province that could potentially affect Manitoba, the agronomy team will access the knowledge already learned and put appropriate resources in place to contain before it starts reaching other provinces. A lot of work is being done before farmers are even aware what threats are out there.
The CCC agronomy team is comprised of ten agronomists across the country covering all aspects of canola production. Each agronomist specializes in a specific area of canola production like blackleg or harvest and storage management, and every canola farmer in Manitoba has access to their knowledge.
“The agronomy team is the most immediate item producers see from Council. We don’t see the negotiations at broad or lobbying at government, but we do see reports from agronomists in the field during the growing season. Stuff happens behind the scenes we as farmers don’t get to see, but as a board member I definitely see the functionality and how crucial it is to keep the whole industry running well,” adds McRae.
Click on the links below to learn more about the resources from the Canola Council and the agronomy team.
Canola Calculators – Target Plant Density, Seeding Rate, Combine Optimization Tool
Canola Diagnostic Tool – Help diagnose issues in your field
Canola Encyclopedia – Learn everything about canola production
Canola Performance Trials – unbiased variety evaluation for Western Canadian growers
Canola Research Hub – Database with reports and findings from over 100 canola agronomic studies
Canola Watch – Timely, unbiased research-focused information
Keep It Clean Website – Tips to keep your canola ready for market
Spray to Swath Interval Calculator – Minimum number of days between product application and cutting your crop