March 23, 2016 - Organizing an inaugural event is never easy, but in B.C., the organizers of the first B.C. Poultry Conference seemed to have pulled off a seamless event with four AGMs, 18 breakout sessions, two lunch keynote speakers, three networking receptions and a gala dinner.
By having BC Egg Marketing Board, BC Chicken Growers Association, BC Hatching Egg Producers Association and BC Turkey Association AGMs in one place, diversified poultry farmers who normally had to juggle different AGMs could now attend all meetings at one place over two days. Other industry partners and government officials were very pleased with how easy they could now schedule all four AGMs into their calendars.
The first BC Poultry Conference, held at the classic Westin Bayshore Hotel on Vancouver’s waterfront March 9-11, 2016 had 541 total registrants for the AGM’s, including over 200 BC poultry farmers, 70 sponsors and exhibitors and 30 out of province industry guests.
“Our long term objective of this conference is to build a cohesive, profitable growing poultry industry that meets the needs of consumers while being socially and environmentally responsible,” states Dale Krahn, Chair, BC Poultry Conference. “When we have many stakeholders in one place we experience opportunities to network with each other and join forces to make our industry better.”
The attendance and support for the conference, was much greater than organizers expected.
"Our gala sold out early at 400 registered people and to accommodate the additional registrants for the AGM's and breakout sessions, our room blocks had to be expanded to neighbouring hotels." states Krahn. “With a successful first year we are in a position to plan for an even bigger, better conference in 2017.”
Conference sponsors came from all segments of the poultry supply chain – farm equipment suppliers, feed companies, bankers, insurance and other service providers, processors, food retailers, restaurants and more. These sponsors played a huge role in helping to make this conference a success, according to organizers, because the sponsorship money helps to minimize costs for farmers.
Eight expert breakout speakers covered a range of topics relevant to current industry issues such as biosecurity, animal welfare, avian influenza, water quality, market trends and raising poultry without antibiotics.
On Thursday, Dr. Art Hister gave conference delegates a humorous lunch time key note on healthy living. On Friday, Astronaut Dr. Robert Thirsk inspired delegates to think about how scientific research in space affects our everyday life.
The public outreach event on Friday morning brought about 22 farmers gearing up early in the morning to hand out 300 Triple O’s sunny starts outside the hotel. Farmers showed tremendous enthusiasm for engaging with the public and telling their story. In addition to handing out the famous breakfast sandwiches, farmers also handed out over 100 copies of the “Real Dirt on Farming”, a magazine that dispels common myths about agriculture in Canada.