Ont. growers’ group looks west for CEO

The new association for Ontario’s wheat, corn and soybean growers will have the executive director of the Canadian International Grains Institute, Barry Senft, as its first CEO.

Senft, a former chief commissioner at the Canadian Grain Commission (1997-2002) and second vice-president of what was then Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (1993-97), is to take his new post with the Grain Farmers of Ontario in mid-July.

Senft’s job, the GFO said in a release Friday, will be to oversee the GFO’s creation, from the merger of the Ontario Wheat Producers’ Marketing Board (OWPMB), Ontario Corn Producers’ Association (OCPA) and Ontario Soybean Growers (OSG) into a single organization representing the province’s 28,000 grain growers.

Under the three groups’ current transition plan, underway since last December, OWPMB, OCPA and OSG are expected to merge to form the GFO upon completion of the legislative process in the fall.

GFO is meant to represent its grower members in matters of “advocacy, marketing services and market development initiatives, policy direction and leadership in research and innovation.”

Now based in Winnipeg with CIGI, Senft, who hails originally from a family farm at Lipton in southeastern Saskatchewan, has over 25 years’ experience in the private and public agribusiness sectors on his resume, starting with his membership on SaskPool’s board of directors (1984-97).

Senft’s board memberships have included executive positions with Heartland Livestock Services and the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, as well as XCAN Grain Pool, Prairie Malt and Co-operators Insurance. He and his brother still operate a 2,500-acre farm at Lipton.

“The formation of GFO is truly a great farmer-led initiative and I look forward to working with Ontario farmers and the industry,” Senft said in GFO’s release Friday.

“Barry’s skills in relating to both farmers and senior decision-makers in industry and government will serve the interests of the growers we represent very well,” said OSG chairman Leo Guilbeault, a grower from Belle River, east of Windsor.

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