Farmers gather to learn and highlight success


Gérald Beaudry receives lifetime achievement award

Isabel Mosseler


Nasty weather kept a lot of the local farmers away, but 30 people still attended the West Nipissing East Sudbury Soil & Crop Improvement Association’s annual Forage & Seed Fair, April 5, in Cache Bay. There were 9 presentations ranging from various sector updates to new agricultural technology, topped off by this year’s award winners for best hay and seed.

Association President François Delorme said that the day was an excellent opportunity to learn about latest trends, opportunities, markets and even social activities. He spoke of a presentation by retired local farmer, writer and accountant James Parsons, who provided an update on opportunities to learn while in the tractor, by listening to farming podcasts while plowing. Parsons provided a list of agricultural podcasts with a wide perspective, such as RealAgriculture, as an alternative to listening to the radio while working the fields. “They do podcasts on all kinds of stuff, and it’s always fun to learn anyway,” said Delorme.  

One of the highlights of the day was a special presentation to local farmer Gérald Beaudry for his lifetime of participation in, and advancing of, the agricultural community in the area – over 70 years of activity. The presentation was made by Rhéal Brouillette and Dan Olivier, in French and English. They told guests that Gérald Beaudry was the eldest of a family of 11 children, born in 1941 on a dairy farm. From the age of 12 he participated in the 4-H club, in local plowing contests, and in the grain and hay fair in North Bay that was organized by the Nipissing District Soil and Crop Improvement Association.

After his university studies, he was hired by Sturgeon Falls Secondary School (prior to Franco-Cité) to develop an agricultural study program. The program lasted only two years “because the boys were attracted to work in the mines instead of working on the farm.” When Gérald’s father, Émile Beaudry, passed away in 1965, Gérald became more involved in the management of the family business in order to help his brother Jacques, who had become the owner. In 1973, Gérald became the owner of his own farm and, even though he was a secondary school teacher, he found the time to tend the farm. In 1982, he became a sales representative for agricultural products for UCO, United Cooperatives of Ontario, serving ten cooperatives in northeastern Ontario.

During his travels in northern Ontario, he saw a decline in agriculture in the regions of Cochrane, Kapuskasing and Hearst, and reflected, “The same thing could happen in the districts of Nipissing and Sudbury. The sale of dairy farms and animals could lead to the abandonment of the culture.” The presenters noted that these reflections compelled Gérald Beaudry to make presentations on behalf of the Soils and Harvest Association to the New Liskeard College, urging the government to establish harvest research and crop demonstration sites in the region. “The dream came true in 1988 and the sites served as a stimulus for growers in the region.” Beaudry was president of the local association for soils and harvests for about ten years. He also served for nine years, from 1997 to 2006, as director representing the districts of Nipissing and Parry Sound with the provincial association, commonly known as OSCIA. In 2017, he was named Honorary President of the provincial association. Beaudry also sat on the board of directors of Agricorp for six years. 

The presenters remarked on Beaudry’s continued dedication to soil and crop improvement, and his influence throughout the region on both farming practices and the farming economy. “One of the great changes in agriculture in the region was when the Regional Cooperative built its grain elevator in Verner, in the year 2000. Local farmers benefit from this infrastructure to guarantee the success of field crops.”

Gérald Beaudry was a founding member in 1997, and still sits on the West Nipissing East Sudbury Agricultural Support Project Inc. He has been president of this organization for 21 years and has seen approximately 15,000 acres equipped with underground drainage tiles. He is involved with the Board of Directors of the Cooperative as Secretary. He was in charge of the Plowing portion of the 2019 International Plowing Match. His influence stretched far beyond agriculture, into community life, as a staunch advocate for the Francophone community.

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