Sask. livestock sector adds three hall-of-famers

It was only proper for Byrnne Rothwell, Florian Possberg and Barry Andrew to be announced in the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame’s next group of inductees during Canada’s biggest livestock show.

The three inductees, all known for their contributions to the livestock sector, were announced Friday morning at Canadian Western Agribition in Regina.

Ed McCall described veterinarian Byrnne Rothwell as one of the “steadiest hands” he knew, with a reputation as a “quiet, very resourceful, thoughtful person.” he added.

Rothwell passed away in January 2014. McCall, a fellow veterinarian and classmate of Rothwell’s at Ontario Veterinary College, was at the announcement on behalf of Rothwell’s family, who were unable to attend.

Rothwell, who grew up near Nipawin, Sask., traveled with McCall through many blizzards on long drives between Saskatchewan and the OVC campus in Guelph in the 1960s, McCall said.

Rothwell, who died in January 2014, worked for a year for Burns and Co. as a cattle buyer out of Prince Albert, and went on to establish a veterinary practice at nearby Shellbrook, Sask., before joining the federal agriculture department, McCall said.

Rothwell also volunteered with organizations including the Saskatchewan Horse Federation, Agribition and the Prince Albert Exhibition. While reviewing the Hall of Fame nomination forms, McCall said, organizers realized Rothwell was either a member of, or recipient of awards from, over 20 provincial organizations.

“His knowledge of people and organizations in this province was almost encyclopaedic,” because of this committee work, McCall said.

With over 40 years in the pork industry, Florian Possberg is well known as an advocate for the hog industry.

Possberg earned a degree in ag economics from the University of Saskatchewan, and, with his wife, Betty, built a 60-sow operation near Humboldt in 1976. He also helped found Big Sky Farms, the second-largest hog producer in Canada before it was bought by Olymel.

Six years ago Possberg and his son, Brian, founded B+F Polar Pork Farms Ltd., which has since expanded to include four of Florian and Betty’s children.

Possberg has been a pork industry leader through his roles with Sask Pork, the Canadian Pork Council and the Prairie Swine Centre. He has spoken to parliamentary committees on behalf of the industry. As chair of the National Farm Animal Care Council’s pig code development committee, he helped roll out a new code of practice for handling hogs.

Family was on hand to remember the late Barry Andrew, who ran a beef and grain operation north of Regina and “was dedicated to improving agriculture at a grassroots level,” daughter Joan Thomas said.

“So we’re very proud that he’s going to join his peers in the Agricultural Hall of Fame,” she said, noting Andrew’s work nationally and internationally with Agribition and with Counselling and Assistance for Farmers.

Andrew, who died in December 2012, was a founding member and director of Agribition and served as president of the Saskatchewan and Canadian Shorthorn Associations. As a program director (1982-90) for Counselling and Assistance for Farmers, he helped producers facing tough economic times and high interest rates.

Jeremy Andrew said that while growing up, he took his grandfather’s volunteerism for granted. “You think it’s normal. Something like this really puts it into perspective.”

Reed Andrew, Barry’s son and chair of the Hall of Fame, thanked those who had nominated his father.

“He did a lot for the community and did a lot for these organizations,” said Reed.

The nomination also put Reed’s work into perspective, said Jeremy. “He won’t tell you that, but it means the world to him that Grandpa’s going into the Hall of Fame.”

In all, six new members are to be inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame next summer, on Aug. 6. The other three inductees will be announced at CropSphere in Saskatoon in January.

Lisa Guenther is a field editor for Grainews and Country Guide based at Livelong, Sask. Follow her at @LtoG on Twitter.

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