Seed World

Awards of Achievement | July 2012




Honourary Life Membership Awards
Robert Graf began his career in 1987 with the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. He has headed Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s winter wheat breeding program at the Lethbridge Research Centre, and was group leader for Field Crop Research at LRC from 2009 to 2011. Graf currently chairs the Alberta/British Columbia Grain Advisory Committee, and is an advisor to the board of the Alberta Seed Growers’ Association.

Danielle Bernier has been a member of the Ordre des Agronomes du Québec since 1981, and has been working for the Québec Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for almost 25 years. She is currently chair of the Société de Protection du Québec and vice-chair of the plant protection commission of the Centre de référence en agriculture et agroalimentaire du Québec.

Robertson Association Awards
Edwin Kiffiak was born in 1942 in Coaldale, Alta., and raised on the family farm. He started producing seed in 1974, and since then has grown cereals, oilseeds, pulses and grass seed. Kiffiak has served on the board of many organizations, including the Hoping Rural Electrification Association, United Farmers of Alberta and the Etzikom Water Organization. Kiffiak was a board member and chairperson of the AgExpo seed fair for 28 years, and is currently a board member on the Foremost Co-operative Seed Cleaning Plant.

Larry Kitz grew his first certified seed crop in 1983, and currently farms with brothers Garry and Terry, managing 10,000 acres and a 4,000-head feedlot. Kitz has served as a director for the Alberta Branch of the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association, and has also chaired the Seed Industry Partnership. He has served as chair of the Alberta Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture Council, and has been widely recognized for his work promoting environmentally sustainable best management practices to growers.

Edward and Shirley Persely purchased their first half-section of land in 1966, adding more land when it became available, and eventually became pedigreed seed growers. In 1997, they each received a certificate in agri-management from the Ferguson Institute at the University of Tulsa. The Perselys helped organize the Canadian Foodgrains Bank Growing Project, and continue to serve on the committee and participate in field work. Currently, the Perselys grow 3,500 acres of pedigreed and commercial crops of peas, wheat, barley, oats and canola.

Cecil Reisner began farming with his father in 1949. Twenty years later, the farm, located near Limerick, Sask., began producing certified seed, and over the past 42 years has continued to produce, process and sell large volumes of seed. Soil conservation is an important part of Reisner’s farming practices. Reisner and his wife Margaret now have 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. They are happy to have spent their lives in a small, stable community where people help one another and also help with community projects.

Lorne Hulme was born and raised on a farm in MacGregor, Man. Although he began his career as an agricultural loans officer, Hulme became a seed grower and planted his first pedigreed crops in 1992. He has been involved as a director with many organizations, including Manitoba Pool Elevators, Keystone Ag Producers, Canterra Seeds and, presently, the Portage Co-op. Hulme has served both as director and president of the Manitoba Seed Growers’ Association.

Herbert and Helen Kletke began farming in 1959, and have been growing, processing and retailing seed ever since. The Kletkes farm about 2,700 acres near Teulon and produce a wide variety of crops including wheat, oats, barley, canola, soybeans and hemp. They are founding members or shareholders in most grower-owned seed distribution companies that have developed in Western Canada, and are active in industry and community associations.

Guy Crépeau was born on a family farm in Saint-Hugues in 1959. After receiving a degree in agriculture from McGill University, Crépeau gradually assumed management of the family business. Crépeau operates a laboratory accredited by the Canadian Seed Institute. Along with his seed business on 600 acres of arable land, where he grows oats, wheat, barley and soybeans, he operates the Semences Crépeau Inc. seed screening centre, which processes an average of 5,000 tonnes of seed per year.


CSTA Seed Achievement Award
Chuck Hilhorst was born on a Manitoba dairy farm, but his interest in international affairs began early. As a young adult, he traveled abroad before returning to Canada to graduate with a B.A. in economics in 1974 from the University of Manitoba. Hilhorst’s career in the seed industry began with a position at the Manitoba Pool, where he eventually became manager of the seed department.

award_csta_chuckhilhorst_july2012In 1986, Hilhorst established John Zuelzer and Son Canada Ltd. in Carberry, Man., which deals in the production, marketing and trade of forage and turf seed around the world. According to Dave Sippell, head of diverse field crops for Syngenta, Hilhorst’s work at Zuelzer is a hallmark of his commitment to excellence in the international seed trade. “The international co-broker relationships of Zuelzer Canada necessitate an intimate understanding of the extensive rules and regulations that govern the efficient, safe, economical movement of seed across international borders,” says Sippell.

Hilhorst has always displayed an active understanding of and appreciation for international seed issues. During the 1980s, he became involved in leadership at the Northern Seed Trade Association, eventually becoming president. And from 1989 to 1999, Hilhorst served on the board of the Canadian Seed Trade Association. “With a practical eye on how it relates to the trade of seed, Chuck contributed to the formulation and implementation of safe, efficient seed trade policy and procedures,” notes long-time colleague and past CSTA president Rick Lusk.

At CSTA, Hilhorst served as president of the Seed Multiplication Division, and was also a founding member of the International Committee. For more than 10 years Hilhorst contributed to the executive team, and served as chairman for several terms. While on the committee, Hilhorst successfully leveraged his energy against pressing issues such as phytosanitary barriers to Canadian exports and EU subsidies on forage and turf seed.

“Chuck is a seedsman at heart, and he has given tirelessly of his experience in trading seed,” adds Robynne Anderson, president of Emerging Ag. “He was generous with his advice to others … While many traders would have kept such information to themselves, Chuck was always willing to be candid in the International Committee, the Board, and other industry meetings. Without his generosity of spirit, many members of CSTA would have learned more tough lessons on the global markets.”

Hilhorst continues to attend CSTA Forage and Turf and International Committee meetings and is on the list of arbitrators for international trade disputes.

As chair of the National Organizing Committee for the World Seed Congress held in Calgary in 2010, Hilhorst’s expertise contributed to the congress being billed as one of the most successful to date. “He ran committee meetings with skill and efficiency. He was a great leader—one of those who leads quietly from behind,” says Brenda Trask, national communications manager for SeCan.

“Chuck has provided tremendous leadership to the Canadian and international seed industry,” adds Trask, “by diplomatically challenging the process, by providing inspiration for a shared vision, by embracing and enabling others to act responsibly, by modelling the way with his commitment and passion, and by encouraging our hearts.

“Chuck has been and continues to be one of the seed industry’s best leaders, especially in the international arena.”

Julienne Isaacs