New leaders at Alberta Barley, Alberta Milk, and Grain Growers of Canada

New Year brings new faces on the boards and executives of farm groups

barley in the hand
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With a new year dawning, a host of producers are assuming farm leadership roles or taking on new ones.

At Alberta Barley, Jason Lenz has stepped up to chair (from vice-chair) after Sylvan Lake producer and past chair Mike Ammeter “termed out” after serving on the board of directors for the last six years.

Jason Lenz
Jason Lenz photo: Supplied

“It’s a big responsibility that I am looking forward to working with both returning directors and new faces, as well,” said Lenz, who farms 2,500 acres of canola, wheat, barley and faba beans and operates a small cow-calf commercial herd.

He’s been vice-chair for the past two years — a role now filled by Dave Bishop of Barons. Other new additions to Alberta Barley’s board are Neil Gorda of Willingdon (acclaimed in Region 4) and Brian Sewell of Blackie (elected after a three-way director-at-large election).

At the Grain Growers of Canada, one Albertan is replacing another as president.

‘Senator’ Gary Stanford of Magrath has stepped down after three years as president and three as vice-president.

Jeff Nielsen
Jeff Nielsen photo: Supplied

He has been succeeded by Western Barley Growers Association rep Jeff Nielsen, who has been vice president. Nielsen farms near Olds — growing barley, canola and wheat on 1,350 acres — on a family farm that dates back to 1930 on his father’s side. In addition to being a past president of the Western Barley Growers, he also advocated for marketing freedom as a Canadian Wheat Board director. Manitoba farmer Art Enns of the Prairie Oat Growers Association is the new vice president.

Tom Kootstra
Tom Kootstra photo: Supplied

Alberta Milk also has a new leader. Tom Kootstra has succeeded Albert Kamps as chair with Heini Hehli continuing as vice-chair and Gezinus Martens becoming second vice chair. All are long-term members of the board, with Kootstra serving as chairman from 2013-15 before taking a one-year mandatory step-down. He and wife Pam own and operate Stradow Farms near Ponoka where they have a herd of 145 Holstein cows.

Kelly Smith-Fraser from Red Deer County is the new face on the executive of Alberta Beef Producers. He joins chair Bob Lowe of Nanton and vice-chair Roland Cailliau, who were both re-elected to their positions.

About the author


Glenn Cheater

Glenn Cheater is a veteran journalist who has covered agriculture for more than two decades. His mission is to showcase the ideas, passions, and stories of Alberta farmers and ranchers.



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