Tina Varughese brings funny, useful presentation to Breakout Session 9

Date posted: November 12, 2019

Tina Varughese

Tina Varughese


Agriculture is like any industry, any segment of Canadian society. It is a dynamic, ever-moving combination of cultures.

How we communicate in that environment is a huge factor in our personal and business success according to Tina Varughese of t Works Inc. in Calgary, Alta. She knows because she lives the situation and spends her days training industry, government and organizations on how to do better.

Varughese, brings her powerful and entertaining presentation "50 shades of beige: How to communicate with the cross cultural advantage" to Banff Pork Seminar 2020. It's in Breakout Session 9, which takes place on Thursday afternoon only.

"It promises to be a very popular session," says Ruurd Zijlstra, program co-chair for BPS. "Varughese will challenge people's thinking. She has been described as entertaining, hilarious but always as informative.

"Our industry is no different than any other in facing these challenges of communication in today's multi-cultural, globally connected world," he says. "We don't often get a chance to hear someone with this experience and perspective to help us navigate that arena."

Full BPS program details are available at www.banffpork.ca.


Protein alternatives: Challenge or unique opportunity for the pork industry

Date posted: November 12, 2019

Tiffany Lee

Tiffany Lee


About one year ago, at Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) 2019, several speakers got audience attention and the room buzzing with an overview of the rapidly emerging alternative protein movement.

Likely few in the room would have predicted what was to come. In the months since then the alternative protein industry has literally exploded with a roller coaster ride of business success and failure and aggressive market positioning battles. Pork producers and their livestock industry counterparts are wondering what this means for their industry.

BPS 2020 tackles that issue head on with the opening Plenary Session on Wednesday morning. Tiffany Lee of the North American Meat Institute delivers her perspective in the presentation "The alternative protein movement: A challenge or a unique opportunity?"

"This speaker is uniquely positioned to give real insight into this industry development," says Michael Dyck, University of Alberta and BPS 2020 program co-chair. "It's not hard to imagine these developments in alterative protein to be nothing but negative for the meat industry.

"But that may not be the case and Tiffany Lee has a ringside seat to that world in her position with the respected North American Meat Institute. The Wednesday Plenary promises to be a lively one with some new thinking on this dynamic and emerging issue."

Full BPS program details are available at www.banffpork.ca.


Bright young minds, creative innovators at BPS 2020 Breakout Session 8

Date posted: November 12, 2019

Young scientist poster session at Breakout Session 8.

Young scientist poster session at Breakout Session 8


Innovation and science. They are always reasons delegates sign up for the Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) breakout sessions. Early signs are the 2020 seminar will be no exception.

Breakout Session 8, which takes place on Wednesday afternoon only, showcases the winning student research posters from BPS 2020 for the R. O. Ball Young Scientist Award. These top young scientists selected from a typically strong field of competitors, give presentations on their work. On boards nearby outside the session doors are posters of all other young scientist entries, all of it interesting in its own right.

"It's just a great feeling in the room each year," says Michael Dyck, University of Alberta and 2020 BPS program co-chair. "The student science competition has expanded with young scientists from areas outside Alberta and Saskatchewan entering. There is often information that is usable in decision-making, and there's simply a real energy when people hear these promising young people who will tackle the research and fill the industry positions that will take our industry to new heights."

Innovation is the other reason come to Breakout Session 8. The F. X. Aherne Prize winner or winners do a presentation on their entries. Ruurd Zijlstra, University of Alberta program co-chair for BPS 2020 says this award is always popular it part because it is industry peers who have created the innovation, but also because there are ideas that can often be adopted in operations quickly and easily.

"Delegates like the opportunity to be able to ask questions of Aherne winners and of young scientists," says Zijlstra. "Breakout Session 8 is set up so they can do that and typically the room is busy and active."

The F. X. Aherne Prize and the R. O. Ball Young Scientist Award will be awarded officially by BPS awards committee chair, Ben Willing of the University of Alberta on Thursday morning prior to the opening plenary session.

Full program details are available at www.banffpork.ca.


Fresh perspective on liability and activism at BPS Breakout Session 1

Date posted: November 5, 2019

Geraldine Auston

Geraldine Auston

Andy Curliss

Andy Curliss


The rise of activism on-farm has producers of all kinds wondering about their response and liability options.

One place they can get a fresh perspective is in the "Liability and the producer" Breakout Session 1 at Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) 2020, Jan. 7 to 9.

"Alberta has a recent example of activists entering a farm for the purposes of creating media exposure on animal care," says Ruurd Zijlstra, program co-chair for BPS 2020. "That was a bit of a wake-up call for producers even those deep in rural areas. That is not an isolated incident in our industry. It is occurring around the world and how producers respond has huge liability overtones."

BPS has two solid speakers on this topic from two key perspectives.

Andy Curliss of the North Carolina Pork Council brings an unusual combination of skills to the discussion. The Council plays a strong role in analyzing pork industry needs and advocating on industry behalf. But Curliss is also a former investigative journalist who understands the media side of the story. He will speak on "Farmers Under Fire."

Then Geraldine Auston of the industry advisory group Ag and Food Exchange will talk on "How to Manage Trespassing on Farm."

"This session is simply a good opportunity for producers to be better prepared and to ask questions of people at the forefront of the issue," says Zijlstra.


The tale of the ticket: How sponsors keep the BPS engine running

Date posted: November 5, 2019

Banff Pork Seminar

Numbers tell this story. There are more than 60 sponsors signed up for Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) 2020. Look around the meeting floor or the trade show and imagine that without the teams of staff and clients sponsors bring. Then look at your Seminar ticket and imagine paying about double that amount.

Those are two direct and huge benefits sponsors bring to each Seminar say BPS program co-chairs, Michael Dyck and Ruurd Zijlstra.

"The most direct benefit to all delegates is on the ticket, the fact that this support dramatically lowers the cost for each delegate attending this seminar," says Zijlstra. "We simply could not afford to have a conference of this scale otherwise."

"So much of the energy and networking comes from those sponsors and their connections," adds Dyck. "The hum of activity around the trade show, the fun times in the downtown pubs and restaurants each evening revolves around those client connections and everyone benefits from that.

"The 2020 sponsors are listed below in order of sponsorship category starting with the highest," says Dyck. "I'm sure we speak for all delegates in showing our appreciation for their support."

Sustaining Sponsors



Select Sponsors



Supporting Sponsors

  • Alberta Barley
  • AQINAC/Le Porc Show
  • Jefo Nutrition
  • Nutrition Partners Inc.
  • Warman Veterinary Services


Banff Pork Seminar's 2020 team brings energy, new thinking

Date posted: November 5, 2019

Conference Center

Many lessons from the sports world find their way into the arena of business and organizations. Teamwork is one of the strongest examples.

The Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) has built a reputation for excellence because it draws its leadership team from across the industry and across the nation.

BPS 2020 got its energy and new thinking from the group of people listed below assembled from industry, government and academia to serve on this year's Advisory Committee.

  • Chair: Amy Cronin, Cronin Farms, Bluevale, Ont.
  • Program co-chairs: Michael Dyck and Ruurd Zijlstra, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta.
  • Conference coordinator: Ashley Steeple, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta.
  • Javier Bahamon, Alberta Pork, Edmonton, Alta.
  • Dan Bussières, Groupe Cérès Inc., Levis, Que.
  • Cliff Ehr, Olymel, Humboldt, Sask.
  • Dawn Friesen, Fast Genetics, Spiritwood, Sask.
  • Daniel Godbout, PIC, St-Augustin, Que.
  • Frank Novak, Sunhaven Farms, Sherwood Park, Alta.
  • Darcy Pauls, Cargill, Niverville, Man.
  • Bryan Possberg, Polar Pork Farms, Loreburn, Sask.
  • Bill Rempel, Steve's Livestock Transport, Red Deer, Alta.
  • Leigh Rosengren, Rosengren Epidemiology Consulting, Midale, Sask.
  • Greg Simpson, Hypor, Burgessville, Ont.
  • Ben Willing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta.
  • Jason Wood, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Edmonton, Alta.

BPS would like to remind everyone that the Advisory Committee is an open process. Anyone interested in serving on it or learning more about its role is invited to contact a current member.


Banff Pork Seminar 2020 welcomes media

Date posted: October 30, 2019

Media interviews

Each year a strong contingent of media show up to Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) to hear speakers on major issues in the pork industry.

"Their attendance at our Seminar reinforces the fact that our industry operates with transparency, confidence and real pride," says BPS chair, Amy Cronin. "There are few things as important to our industry as consumer and societal trust. That has been a key part of every BPS planning session for many years now.

"We are pleased that media attend and report the results of presentations. In fact, we encourage those that attend and those that follow up less directly to track down speakers for additional details.

"While most media will be from across North America they are interconnected with media around the world," says Cronin. "It's a reason Banff Pork Seminar continues to be a leading event globally."

Media are asked to register to attend BPS 2020. More details are on the BPS website www.banffpork.ca. at the "Inside BPS" Special Report link, under the "Media Assistance" button.

That Special Report includes the Inside BPS blog, feature articles and photos. These articles are available for media support and industry use.

Delegates can also help tell the story of pork by following BPS on social media. They can follow the Seminar @BanffPork on Twitter. And they can tweet frequently and with energy during and around the time of the 2020 Seminar using the hashtag #banffpork.


Joe Schwarcz talks "Sense, nonsense and science" at BPS 2020

Date posted: October 30, 2019

Joe Schwarcz

Joe Schwarcz


He's one of the most dynamic speakers on the world of science and society. The popular Joe Schwarcz will open Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) 2020 with his plenary presentation "Sense, nonsense and science."

Schwarcz is Director of McGill University's Office for Science and Society. He hosts a radio program on science and nonsense, authors a newspaper column on the subject and has been a frequent guest on television shows. He has received many awards for his work.

"Few people have the ability to bridge the world of science and discovery with the pressure of society to understand it," says Ruurd Zijlstra, University of Alberta scientist and BPS 2020 program co-chair. "Schwarcz has a lifetime of experience as a scientist himself and an interpreter of science.

"He does his presentations with energy, humor and common sense. There are always lessons for delegates to take home as a result."

Full program details and registration information is available at the Seminar website www.banffpork.ca. Follow on Twitter @banffpork. Connect on Facebook /BanffPork.


Wild ending planned for Banff Pork Seminar 2020

Date posted: October 30, 2019

Ryan Brook

Ryan Brook


It's one of the fastest growing problems around the world. Wild boars may be tasty subjects on the menu but they are a disastrous ecological force when they escape into the wild. They are amazingly adaptive, destroy habitat and create a disease threat.

Closing Seminary plenary speaker University of Saskatchewan research scientist Ryan Brook will take delegates on a wild finish to BPS 2020. Brook has spent his career studying wildlife including wildlife ecology and health, aboriginal engagement and traditional ecological knowledge, farmer knowledge about wildlife and managing the wildlife-livestock interface.

"He is engaged in an innovative research project that promises to shed light on the difficult-to-manage wild boar issue," says Dr. Michael Dyck, University of Alberta scientist and BPS program co-chair. "Our closing plenary session is a chance to end a busy few days on an informative and social note."

Full program details and registration information is available at the Seminar website www.banffpork.ca. Follow on Twitter @banffpork. Connect on Facebook /BanffPork.


Book now: BPS hotel rooms moving quickly

Date posted: October 30, 2019

Banff Spring Hotel

Here's a news flash from Ashley Steeple at Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) 2020 headquarters. "Registrations for Banff Pork Seminar 2020 are flowing in at a steady rate but hotel rooms at the conference center Banff Springs Hotel are moving very briskly," says the Seminar coordinator.

"If anyone is considering registering and needs a hotel room, it is a good idea to book as soon as possible," she says. "The convenience and other benefits of staying at the Banff Springs are hard to beat.

Full program details and registration information is available at the Seminar website www.banffpork.ca. Follow on Twitter @banffpork. Connect on Facebook /BanffPork.


News Release: North America's pork industry meets at Banff Pork Seminar 2020

Date posted: October 22, 2019

Entry deadline for Banff Pork Seminar Aherne Prize is Oct. 31, 2019

It is simply the best place to be in the pork industry in North America. The 2020 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) runs Jan. 7 to 9 at the beautiful Banff Springs Hotel in Banff Alta.

"The fact that this is our 49th Seminar underlines the value to the industry," says BPS program co-chair Dr. Ruurd Zijlstra of the University of Alberta. "This seminar has remained a leader because it always brings the best speakers together.

"It is also unparalleled opportunity for networking and fun. That's because the event has really grown into Banff Pork Seminar Week, with companies and organizations using this as a destination to bring staff and clients together for related business meetings."

The 2020 theme is "External forces, internal solutions" says BPS program co-chair Dr. Michael Dyck of the University of Alberta. "We face strong external forces," he says. "How we respond, how we develop internal industry solutions will define our success.

"The plenary speakers at BPS 2020 bring new, current perspective on the hard issues while a host of speakers in the Breakout Sessions provide clear thinking and implementable ideas on the practical side of the industry."

Here's a session snapshot. Tuesday's welcome reception eases into the week. Wednesday's Joe Schwarcz of McGill University tackles "Sense, nonsense and science." Then Tiffany Lee of the North American Meat Institute talks "The alternative protein movement: A challenge or unique opportunity."

Thursday, Brett Stuart of Global AgriTrends talks "Global markets and trends. And Klaus Depner of the Friedrich Loeffler Institute will outline "How much we need to know about African Swine Fever to be able to prevent, control and eradicate." Thursday's BPS 2020 closing plenary session looks at the thorny and growing issue of wild boars in Canada.

Breakout sessions topics include liability and the producer, nutrition, vaccines and health, sow management, pig resilience and smart technology. Wednesday's breakouts features an innovators' session; Thursday that time slot features a session on cross culture communications.

Full program details and registration information is available at the Seminar website www.banffpork.ca. Follow on Twitter @banffpork. Connect on Facebook /BanffPork. Get complete Seminar coverage in a Special Meeting Report via the link on the Seminar site.


Student science abstract deadlines Oct. 31, 2019

Date posted: October 22, 2020

First prize winner, Victoria Seip, University of Guelph with Ben Willing

First prize winner, Victoria Seip, University of Guelph with Ben Willing


There is more profile for successful young scientists in all industries in today's highly communicative world. The R. O. Ball Young Scientist Award presented at the Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) each year is an example that has proven popular with young scientists across the continent.

The award is named after Dr. Ron Ball, a long-time researcher and former BPS program director. It recognizes graduate and undergraduate students who provide a best overall combination of good and relevant science, a well-written abstract and an excellent presentation.

Deadline for abstracts for the 2020 Banff Pork Seminar student competition is October 31, 2019.


News Release: Entry deadline for Banff Pork Seminar Aherne Prize is Oct. 31, 2019

News Release: Entry deadline for Banff Pork Seminar Aherne Prize is Oct. 31, 2019

Date posted: October 22, 2019

North America's pork industry has grown through innovation. This is highlighted in the annual Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) awarding of the F.X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production.

Researcher Dr. Ben Willing of the University of Alberta, chairs the BPS awards selection committee. He says BPS is always impressed with the creativity and quality of entries for the Aherne Prize.

Named after the late Dr. Frank Aherne, a professor of swine nutrition and production at the University of Alberta, the contest is open to owners, production managers, herdspeople or consultants in, or anyone who has developed an innovation relevant to the North American pork industry.

"That can include original solutions to pork production challenges or creative uses for known technology," says Willing, "and past winners have included innovations both large and small, complex and simple. All segments of the pork industry qualify. That includes feeding, breeding, ventilation, disease control and prevention, transportation, manure management, animal handling, facility or enterprise management, and pork quality and safety.

The prize includes free 2020 BPS conference registration, accommodation at the world-renowned Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and travel assistance for the Banff Pork Seminar Jan. 7 to 9, 2020 for up to two innovators. That's a value of approximately $2,000 each. Perhaps equally satisfying is the recognition of having innovations featured at this world-renowned pork industry conference, says Willing.

Best place to find all contest details are on the Seminar website www.banffpork.ca. Entry deadline for the upcoming 2020 BPS Prize is Oct. 31, 2019.

Follow Banff Pork Seminar on Twitter @banffpork. Connect on Facebook /BanffPork. Get complete coverage in a Special Meeting Report of the 2020 Banff Pork Seminar, presented by communications partner Meristem. Find the special report link on the Seminar site home page www.banffpork.ca.


Banff Pork Seminar 2020: The search for the leadership edge

Date posted: October 22, 2019

North America's pork industry will meet at Banff Pork Seminar 2020

Welcome to Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) 2020.

Each year the Inside BPS Special Meeting Report is produced to take you "inside" the events and help you keep on top of developments. It's produced by Meristem editors in partnership with the Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) organizing committee.

The pork industry has brought an explosion of technology and techniques in recent years and the Banff Pork Seminar continues to be where the North American pork industry meets to find that leadership edge. Delegates will travel from across the continent and around the world launching the year with a search for knowledge, a hunger for networking and an opportunity for fun in this world renowned resort community and hotel.

The information in this Special Report – including blog items and news features – is designed to be available for use by media and industry, with credit to the source. These are a few key points.

The BPS hub. The best place to get everything you need to know about the 2020 Seminar, Jan. 7 to 9 is the Seminar website www.banffpork.ca. You can sign up for e-news advisories from Seminar coordinator, Ashley Steeple.

Inside BPS blog. These blog items will provide key information and perspective prior to, during and immediately following the 2020 seminar. Blog items are designed for use by media, industry communications specialists, producers and others in the industry. Simply provide a credit line to the Inside BPS Special Report and a live link to the Report.

News releases and news features. While these articles are primarily designed for media and industry communications specialists, they are available for anyone to use and are available for reprint. News releases can be used without requirement to provide credit. News features should be credited to the Banff Pork Seminar 2020 and linked to the Special Report.

Photos. Selected speaker photos are available for use. Credit Banff Pork Seminar.

Media assistance. As in past years, media assistance is available. You can find contact information and other key details under the "Media Assistance" link in the top right column of this Special Report web page.

Social media. Information and links to stories on BPS will also be featured on social media. Watch for regular updates under the #BanffPork hashtag. Follow the Banff Pork Seminar at Twitter handle @BanffPork and on the BPS Facebook Page. Follow Meristem at Twitter handle @NewStreamTweets.

Banff Pork Seminar organizers have worked hard to ensure each delegate's time in Banff is beneficial in a business sense and memorable on a personal level. Welcome to Banff Pork Seminar 2020.