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Cultivate: Agriculture Summit

Panelists and Keynote Speakers

Cultivate: Agriculture Summit brings a full roster of agriculture sector innovators to the main stage for a day of captivating conversations and thought-provoking content. Meet our speakers below:

See the full day schedule

Panel discussion

Farm smarter, not harder

Technology is changing the way we do everything – and farming is no exception. Whether in crop production, livestock farming, or forestry, modern farms are using new information and communication technologies to increase the quantity and quality of their products. Join us as we dig into the foundations of smart farming and what’s on the horizon for agriculture.

Kael Briggs

Panelist

Kael Briggs

Kael Briggs is the Xarvio Commercial Manager in Canada and has been part of BASF Digital Farming since September, 2021. He has been working with digital ag products since 2015 in a variety of roles that have allowed him to experience the exciting and fast-paced advancements of this part of the industry.

Lynn Dargis

Panelist

Lynn Dargis

Lynn is the Founder and CEO of Farmbucks, a one-stop-shop for grain prices. Working together with reputable buyers in the industry, they collect, sort, and display the best prices for farmers according to their location and grades. Lynn is a farmer, mother, and entrepreneur. AKA The Boss. You can find her checking crops, operating combines, driving semis, filing paperwork or feeding kids. She does it all!

Mike Stefaniuk

Panelist

Mike Stefaniuk

Having been at SaskTel for over 20 years, Mike’s career has focused on business transformation and innovation.  In his current role, Mike is responsible for identifying and implementing new business models, which requires both collaboration with many external stakeholders, and creative thinking.  Context matters, and Mike’s desire to better understand problems to be solved (and the associated opportunity) has helped him identify and implement business-changing innovation. 

Stuart Cullum

Moderator

Stuart Cullum

Stuart is an executive leader with experience in private industry as well as the finance, post-secondary and not-for-profit sectors. He joined Olds College in November, 2016 and was appointed as President on July 1, 2017. For more than 20 years Stuart has been working in the post-secondary, innovation and agriculture sectors. During this time, Stuart and his team established programming and centres for research, teaching and learning, company development and entrepreneurship – attracting partnerships and more than $125 million in external investment.

Keynote

Transforming agriculture

As one of the largest producers of agri-food products, Canada’s agriculture sector is vital to addressing the world’s need for nutritious, affordable, and sustainable food. Nutrien brings a big picture perspective on how the sector is transforming given forces of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, technology evolution, and our current geopolitical environment, and gives a glimpse into the future of our farms and food production.

Mark Thompson

Keynote speaker

Mark Thompson

Mark is the Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer at Nutrien, the world's largest provider of agricultural inputs, services and solutions. In this role, he has executive leadership over Nutrien’s global sustainability/ESG & stakeholder relations, corporate development & strategy, mergers & acquisitions and economics functions. Mark has been recognized as a recipient of Canada’s Clean16 and Clean50 sustainability awards and Canada's Top 40 Under 40® award. He is also a North American Ambassador for the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) and a member of the Strategic Advisory Team for IFA’s Sustainability Committee.

Power pitches

Technology is planting seeds of change within the agriculture sector. From cultivating crops and managing livestock to sourcing locally grown products and attracting new investment, this session spotlights companies applying innovation across the agri-food value chain. Meet a few creative thinkers transforming the agriculture sector to tackle the industry's most significant challenges.

Tim Lipp

Speaker

Tim Lipp

Tim has been on a mission to enable more sustainable agriculture and commerce. It started when he witnessed the site of South-Asia's third-largest landslide, where a minority ethnic community lost over 30% of their arable farmland in one day. Climate change and land management were key driving factors. He joined YYC Growers as Interim CTO in November, 2021.

Zai Mamdani

Speaker

Zai Mamdani

A professional with a depth of corporate and non-profit experience, Zai leverages her education and experience to provide strategic leadership and operational guidance to the organizations she supports. The founder of the YYC Food Security Fund, Zai wants to re-imagine our food system such that everyone can Dine with Dignity™ and where philanthropic dollars can be leveraged for greater economic impact.

Luke Silinski

Speaker

Luke Silinski

Luke is the Founder and Head of Play at Ag Tech Steam, and has started his journey in ag tech very early. He has always loved agriculture and technology, finding a way to bring his passion for ag tech to his rural and underserved peers is the driving force behind the Ag Tech Steam Box project. Luke started his journey building a robotic model of the autonomous farming platform DOT, from there he has built several other robots and become connected in ag tech across Canada.  Currently, in Grade 11, Luke has been taking dual credit courses at Olds College for Ag Tech and is looking forward to getting in the cab to work on the farm his dad manages this spring. 

Patrick Walthera

Speaker

Patrick Walther

Patrick is the co-founder & COO of AGvisorPRO and has a deep understanding of agricultural systems, specifically agronomy coupled with expertise in GIS and on-farm research.  He has a Master’s Degree in Science from the University of Manitoba and a Minor in Management and Leadership at the Bern University of Applied Sciences. He has an entrepreneurial background, starting a company in Switzerland that raises pasture raised goose meat for the high-end market and negotiated deals with the biggest supermarket chains in Switzerland. He received several innovation awards for this company. He has international experience and speaks four languages.

Panel conversation

The geopolitics of food security

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced nations to more closely examine the stability of their food sources and supply chains. Additionally, issues of climate change and international trade are spurring discourse around Canada’s role in addressing the global – and growing – demand for nutritious, affordable, and sustainable food. We’ll diver deeper into the current and evolving geopolitics of food security and the impact and implications for Canadian agriculture.

Bob Lowe

Speaker

Bob Lowe

Bob is Past President of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), Chair of CCA’s Public and Stakeholder Engagement program, Chair of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Foundation and incoming Vice President of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB). He is part of a long line of ranchers that came to Alberta in the late 1800’s and continues that legacy with feedlot operations based in Nanton, Alberta and a cow-calf operation in Eriksdale, Manitoba. He is an outspoken advocate for sharing information about raising cattle, feedlots, best management practices, and promotes the understanding of the stewardship and conservation that is inherent in sustainable beef production.

Hon. Ted Menzies

Speaker

Hon. Ted Menzies

During a lengthy career in primary production of oilseeds, grains, pulse and spice crops, Ted played an active role in policy development in agricultural as well as international trade, through various commodity organizations. He was President of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers, founding Vice President of Grain Growers of Canada, President of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance and director on many other boards and committees. After leaving government in November 2013, Ted was selected as President and CEO of CropLife Canada and Member of Crop Protection Strategy Council of CropLife International, retiring in January 2017. He currently continues to have many involvements including the Board President of Canadian Ag Hall of Fame Assn., VP of Alberta’s Ag for Life, chairing the Responsible Grain Code of Practice Development Committee for the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops, Board of Governors for Olds College, as well as various mentorships and local boards.

Ray Price

Speaker

Ray Price

Ray grew up on a mixed farm near Acme, Alberta, Canada. After graduating from Olds College he returned to the farm and worked in every area of the business from cleaning pig pens to positions in sales and finance. Ray is now the President of the Sunterra Group which includes pig operations in Alberta, South Dakota and Iowa, two meat processing facilities in rural Alberta and Sunterra’s retail food business with 9 locations located in Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer. In 2021, Sunterra also started up a 20 acre fully lit greenhouse operation in the Acme area that is now producing strawberries and tomatoes all year long for the local market.

Lourdes Juan

Moderator

Lourdes Juan

Lourdes is an Urban Planner, entrepreneur and award winning non-profit Founder. She holds a Masters Degree in Environmental Design from the University of Calgary. She shares her time with the diverse companies and non-profits she started, Hive Developments, Soma Spa, Leftovers Foundation, Fresh Routes and Knead Technologies. A board director for several organizations, she is passionate about city building, dignified food access and entrepreneurship. She is dedicated to making a positive difference through her work and philanthropy. 

Panel discussion

ESG: Planting seeds of sustainability

Agriculture companies are leading the way in adopting sustainability practices and developing new technology that drives down emissions. This panel will dive into the environment, social and governance metrics vital to attracting investment and fostering a more sustainable sector. Discussion will also explore what shifting to a regenerative and ESG-driven agriculture model could look like in your own farming operation.

Cherie Copithorne-Barnes

Panelist

Cherie Copithorne-Barnes

Cherie is a 4th generation rancher and CEO of CL Ranches Ltd., a cow/calf, backgrounding and mixed grain operation located in Jumping Pound, just west of Calgary. Cherie is a Director of the Calgary Stampede and co-chair of the Government of Alberta’s Red Tape Reduction Panel for Agriculture.

Guillaume Lhermie

Panelist

Guillaume Lhermie

Guillaume is the Director of the Simpson Centre for Agricultural and Food Policy, located at the University of Calgary, School of Public Policy. Guillaume also holds an appointment as Associate Professor of Animal Health Economics and Policy at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary. Dr. Lhermie’ s research interests are in Planetary Health, specifically the interface between animal agriculture and human health. His research focuses on the economics of antimicrobial resistance, the sustainability of livestock systems, controversies in agriculture and the governance of health systems.

Victoria Ross

Panelist

Victoria Ross

Victoria is the brain child that started aGRO Systems from the idea of a science fair experiment in grade 9 and then took it into an entrepreneur class during her BCOMM degree at the University of Calgary. Her ideas may have morphed, pivoted and transformed over the years but she has always stuck true in her vision to support farmers and the environment. She is passionate in improving food production and distribution to make a more equitable world for all and reverse climate change in the process.

Tara Sawyer

Moderator

Tara Sawyer

Tara currently serves as Chair with Alberta Barley and as a dedicated board member with Grain Growers of Canada. Farmer advocacy is a strong passion for Tara, and she has previously served as Chair with the Alberta’s Outstanding Young Farmers program, Regional Chair Representative with Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers National Board, and as a Director with the Canadian Agri Marketing Association – Alberta chapter.

Panel discussion

Cultivating a next gen work force

With the sector posting the highest job vacancy rate of any industry pre-pandemic and a growing global population driving up demand for food, attracting and retaining talent is critical to a strong future for the agriculture industry. We’ll hear from labour and education experts on talent attraction and development and the future of work in agriculture.

James Benkie

Panelist

James Benkie

James leads the Werklund School of Agriculture Technology at Olds College. Prior to joining Olds College, James led teams in the technology sector with global tech company Fujitsu as well as with Agriculture Financial Services Corporation. James is a proud alumni of University of Alberta, Mount Royal University, NAIT, and the ADR Institute of Alberta and currently serves as the Canadian Region Director for the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Society. James also partners and manages the family farm in central Alberta. 

Fred Thun

Panelist

Fred Thun

Fred is UFA’s Executive VP and CFO. He has accountability for UFA’s strategy, business development, treasury & credit, financial reporting, accounting, facilities, insurance and financial planning and analysis functions. Since joining UFA in 2020, Fred has defined UFA’s capital allocation priorities and overseen the creation of significant financial capacity within the co-operative. Prior to joining UFA, Fred was the Senior Vice President, Finance and previously Interim Chief Financial Officer at Nutrien Ltd.  Fred spent a total of fifteen years with Nutrien and its predecessor, Agrium, ultimately overseeing global finance operations in the agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors and participating in significant M&A and integration activities.

Luree Williamson

Panelist

Luree Williamson

Luree is the CEO of Agriculture for Life where she leads the efforts in delivering educational programming to improve rural and farm safety and build a genuine understanding and appreciation of the impact agriculture has on our lives. Spending countless hours on the family farm and promoting western and rural heritage throughout most of her career, Ag for Life is more than a job; it’s her passion. With over 20 years business experience, Luree‘s strong entrepreneurial background, leadership and strategic acumen are key assets in building the Ag for Life brand, partnerships and programs.

Kim McConnell

Moderator

Kim McConnell

Kim is a strategic advisor to a number of companies and organizations. He is an independent director on a number of corporate boards throughout North America as well as a variety of volunteer boards including Calgary Stampede Foundation, 4-H Canada and the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity.

Dollars and cents of ag tech

Supply chains, inflation, and climate have all posed major challenges to the financial well-being of the agriculture sector. With significant barriers to accessing capital, it’s challenging to invest in technology that supports more efficient agriculture practices. By bringing together financial institutions and producers, we’ll explore how to bridge the gaps.

Alison Sunstrum

Panelist

Alison Sunstrum

Alison is CEO of CNSRV-X Inc. (Conserve X), a Canadian company researching and applying emerging technology in agriculture. Alison is GPof The51’s Food & AgTech Fund, and an AgTech Venture Partner at Builders VC, a San Francisco/Calgary venture capital fund. She is a Founding Partner and Fellow in the Ag Stream of the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) Rockies; and Supply Chain, Montreal. In 2021 Alison was recognized as one of Canada’s most influential leaders in agriculture. Formerly CEO/Co-Founder of GrowSafe Systems Ltd., she grew their research and development skunkworks from an Alberta garage to global operations receiving international recognition for science-based innovation.

Jonathan Neutens

Panelist

Jonathan Neutens

Raised in a family ag-retail business in south-western Ontario, Jon has roots servicing primary agriculture. He has been an entrepreneur, owning a software company providing business systems to grain & crop inputs companies, but spent the bulk of his career in the crop life industry in various commercial roles with multinationals such as Syngenta, and eventually a leadership role as President of Nufarm Canada. Jon has served on the industry boards of CropLife Canada and CleanFarms Canada. Prior to joining ATB, Jon provided advisory services to AgTech companies internationally. He holds a B.Sc. from the University of Guelph, and an MBA from the University of British Columbia.

Karen Schuet

Panelist

Karen Schuet

As Co-founder and CEO of Livestock Water Recycling, Ms. Schuett led her team to develop a multi-patented, award winning waste-to-worth approach to on-farm manure treatment. Ms. Schuett is responsible for running all facets of the business, specifically overseeing the integration between LWR’s overall corporate strategy and its focus on innovation. Karen was named one of the six most influential women in Canadian Agriculture, was selected to join Google’s first Google for Startups Accelerator for Women Founders, and was chosen from a pool of over 1,000 well qualified nominees to receive the Clean50 designation for her leadership in sustainability.

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Cultivate: Agriculture Summit

At Cultivate, we bring together all facets of Canada’s agriculture industry for a day focused on one of Canada’s backbone industries.