Toban Dyck, Director of Communications
He’s passionate about agriculture.
You’d probably get along with Garrett Sawatzky. Meetings are not his favourite way to spend an afternoon. Being on a board and taking part in commodity group politics weren’t on his bucket list. The desire was there; it just wasn’t burning. But, he’s passionate about agriculture and understands that a strong sector requires grassroots participation.
“I had an objective of joining a commodity group at some point,” said Garrett. “But I wasn’t sure about the timing. When I got tapped on the shoulder last winter, I decided to give it a try. I wouldn’t say that meetings, boards and politics are at the top of my list of passions, but I’ve learned that if you care about something, getting involved is the best way you can make sure whatever it is you are passionate about can thrive.”
Meet Garrett, Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers’s newest board member. He and his wife, Desiree, along with his parents and brother, farm northwest of Altona, Manitoba. Their farm is diverse. Impressively so. They grow fall rye, spring wheat, oats, soybeans, yellow peas, dry beans, corn and canola.
But that’s not the whole picture. On October 1, Garrett and Desiree brought Beckham Greyer Sawatzky into this world. And, according to Garrett, “He has already been helping influence sound management decisions such as choosing to grow less later season crops this year due to his arrival.” That is lofty praise, as Garrett himself teaches Farm Management in the University of Manitoba’s Agriculture Diploma program.
Congratulations to Garrett and Desiree and we wish you all the best in your advisory role, Beckham.
Garrett officially joined the association’s ranks during MPSG’s AGM held at Manitoba’s annual CropConnect conference in February of 2019. MPSG had always been on his radar. His farm has been participating in the association’s On-Farm Network for the past several years, a program for which Garrett has a profound level of respect.
Garrett’s passion for agriculture doesn’t need to be sold. His involvement paints a picture of an industry leader.
“Every March for Canadian Ag Literacy Month, I speak to several elementary school classes in southern Manitoba and Winnipeg about Agriculture through Ag in the Classroom – Manitoba,” said Garrett, responding to a question about what he does besides farm. “I serve as a delegate for District 3 for Keystone Agricultural Producers; my wife and I enjoy travelling, although that pastime will be taking a break for the time being; we are Winnipeg Jets and English Premier League (soccer) supporters.”
The issues facing farmers are top-of-mind for Garrett, who deals with these topics as an instructor but also as a farmer. His farm’s diversity is no accident and neither is his commitment to generating off-farm income. These are elements of his farm that he believes are valuable and effective strategies for dealing with the challenges the ag sector is currently facing.
“As everyone has felt, trade tensions and tariffs have affected us all in some form,” he said. “As we now can see, the importance of portfolio diversification applies not only to our enterprise selection but also where our end marketing options are for our products. I am also concerned about biosecurity with pests that could change how we farm, such as tall waterhemp, palmer amaranth, SCN, clubroot, etc.”
The challenges the industry faces are the challenges MPSG faces, too. Garrett believes this. He has witnessed the boom in soybean acres in Manitoba and the subsequent decline. Garrett, like many other pulse and soybean farmers, is curious about where MPSG’s acres will level off.
The boom years were positive and presented great, unprecedented opportunity, but, according to Garrett, the challenge now is to figure out how all of that scales against a reduction in acres and thus, a reduction in check-off investment dollars to put to use.
It’s a challenge, but Garrett believes MPSG’s value in the face of hard times can’t be understated.
“The most evident value that MPSG delivers to Manitoba farmers is the gathering and distribution of relevant information that farmers can use for decision making,” said Garrett. “This is through Pulse Beat, The Bean Report, SMART Day, production resources, and more. If you need Manitoba-made research on pulse crops, MPSG is the place to look. Another integral area that MPSG contributes to adding value is through market development for Canadian pulse products.”
Garrett is young. He’s forward-thinking and he’s eager to learn, contribute and help MPSG and the industry it represents thrive.
And, perhaps, once he’s done with board life, Beckham will be there to take his seat.
If you see Garrett, say hi. I think you’d get along with him. We do.