Shining a spotlight on Canadian genetics

Farmfair International rolls out the red carpet for foreign buyers so they can learn 
about and connect with Canada’s purebred sector

cattle in a farmyard
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It comes with a learning curve, but sourcing or selling genetics abroad can open your operation to exciting opportunities to improve your purebred herd or find new customers.

The Inbound Buyer Program is just one of the ways that participating in Farmfair International can get your purebred breeding stock noticed by breeders and buyers from across the country, and around the globe.

The program has worked well for many Alberta seed-stock producers including Dawn Wilson.

“Farmfair International is an ideal destination for international producers interested in making business contacts and learning about the Canadian beef industry,” said Wilson, who owns and operates Miller Wilson Angus near Bashaw with husband Lee.

“The quality of the product is top notch. We’ve met great people over the years and have made numerous international sales at the show. It is the single best venue we have ever been at for direct sales.”

The program has been operating in its current format since November 2010.

“It was created as a venue to facilitate another format of sales to benefit the domestic purebred livestock market and to showcase Canadian cattle and genetics to the world,” said Stacy Felkar, Northlands’ international marketing manager for agriculture.

The program reimburses buyers for 50 per cent of eligible travel costs (up to a total of $1,500) for foreign buyers attending Farmfair. Organizers also roll out the red carpet, offering a day of farm tours, another day at Agri-Trade in Red Deer, and hosting a reception so the buyers can meet Canadian producers and industry reps. Funding for the program is provided by Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency and the Canadian Beef Breeds Council.

The visiting buyers can also take in breed-specific events and take part in a matchmaking session that lets them meet purebred producers of their breed. There’s also a full gamut of educational sessions ranging from nutrition to genomics, and their customized itinerary also allows them to take in the Heritage Ranch Rodeo, RAM Country Marketplace, and Canadian Finals Rodeo.

But while the goal is to facilitate sales, the program doesn’t get involved in any business transactions — that’s left entirely to producers and buyers.

There will be 12 breeds of cattle on show this year, and buyers from eight different countries have signed on — Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, U.S., Scotland and Turkey.

Rachel Wheeler, of T & R Genetics in Dubbo, NSW Australia, is the Australian representative for Farmfair International and has nothing but praise for it.

“The show is located in an area with a high number of purebred herds, which is reflected in the quality of livestock on display,” said Wheeler.

“The Inbound Buyer Program ensures that the buyers receive support and are connected with the right people.”

It’s also fun, she added.

“The unique combination of high-quality livestock, RAM Country Marketplace, equine events, and the Canadian Finals Rodeo creates a great spectacle,” she said. “The ability for visitors to tour around the large number of purebred herds in close proximity to Farmfair is also a big advantage.”

Organizers are now looking at expanding the program to include sheep and goats.

Applications for the Inbound Buyer Program are available at and are accepted until Sept. 1 of each year. Selected participants are notified by mid-September.

For more information, contact the Northlands Agriculture Department at 780-471-7300 or by email.

About the author


Tessa Nybo

Tessa Nybo is a leader and advocate in the agriculture industry, esteemed cattle clinician, and professional speaker. She raises prospect show calves and purebred Limousin as well as growing grain and forage crops north of Edmonton, Alberta. Visit her website at



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