SPEAKERS AND CHAIRS | BIOGRAPHIES DES CONFÉRENCIERS
Listed in alphabetical order | Par ordre alphabétique
Ian Affleck is the vice-president of plant biotechnology for CropLife Canada. In this role, he works with domestic and international agricultural stakeholders and governments on the development of policies, regulations, and science related to plant biotechnology. Prior to joining CropLife Canada, Affleck worked at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for 10 years with a focus the regulation of novel plants and new varieties. Affleck holds a bachelor of science in agriculture from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, concentrating on agronomy and pest management. He also holds a master’s degree in agriculture from the University of Guelph, specializing in horticulture and plant breeding. Affleck has been involved in agriculture from an early age, having grown up on a potato farm in Bedeque, Prince Edward Island.
Kara Beckles is the Director General of Research and Analysis Directorate (RAD) and Chief Data Officer at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). Early in her career Kara held a wide range of policy roles across the Government of Canada, including: 5 years with Finance Canada working on immigration and homelessness issues; the negotiation of free trade agreements at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; as well as various roles at the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Privy Council Office, and Statistics Canada. Kara first joined AAFC in 2007 as a Regulatory Policy Analyst, then as Chief of Bioeconomy Policy, where she developed broad, collaborative departmental strategies. She joined RAD in 2014 when she took on the position of Director, Economic and Industry Analysis where she re-discovered her academic roots in economics before becoming Director General in 2017. Kara holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in economics and business from the University of Winnipeg and a Master of Arts from Dalhousie University.
Scott Biden is a Sr. Research Associate with the Institute for the Advanced Study of Food and Agricultural Policy in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Guelph. His current research is focused on building, and maintaining, a toolbox of interregional, agricultural market models available to assess ‘what if’ type questions through price and quantity impacts along a vertically integrated supply chain. Previous research interest has focused on the intersection between biotechnology, policy, and the environment. In August 2019, Scott joined the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d’agroeconomie as the Editorial Coordinator. Scott holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Germanic Studies from the University of Victoria and a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Saskatchewan.
Ted Bilyea retired in 2005 as Executive Vice-President, Maple Leaf Foods Inc., having spent a very successful 35 years with the same company. Mr. Bilyea is an Agri-food consultant specializing in innovation with clients in both private and public sector.
Prior to becoming Executive Vice President of the parent company, Maple Leaf Foods Inc., Mr. Bilyea held the position of President of Maple Leaf Foods International, from 1995 to 2004. Earlier in his career with the antecedent company Canada Packers Ltd., Mr. Bilyea led teams that pioneered the export of chilled beef from Canada and was the first in North America to export chilled pork to Asia. Under his leadership Maple Leaf Foods entered the specialized bakery business in Europe and became the largest exporter of food in Canada.
Mr. Bilyea holds a B.A. (Hons.) and an M.A. in International Relations from York University and is the past recipient of the H.R. MacMillan Laureate in Agriculture from the University of Guelph and was inducted into the Canadian Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2018.
He is a member of the board of Paterson Global Foods Inc., and is past Chair and advisor to the board of the Canadian Agri-food Policy Institute. Previously he has served on a number of other boards including B.H.G. International Trade Inc. (major supermarket in China), Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, Afexa Life Sciences (Cold-fx), PrioNet Canada, the University of Guelph and chaired the Food Processors of Canada and Metals in the Human Environment NCE.
Ted has an extensive global network in the agri-food space and frequently does keynote presentations in Canada and abroad.
Professor Brady Deaton is Professor and McCain Family Chair in Food Security in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Guelph. His research focuses on the allocation of resources, within society, and the subsequent consequences for food security, economic development and environmental quality. Property rights and ownership of natural resources figure prominently in his research and teaching efforts.
He has examined these issues in a number of different settings including: Canada, First Nations, the United States, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Haiti. In 2017 he gave testimony before sub-committees of both the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons on issues related to farmland and farmland ownership.
In 2010, he founded a podcast series called FARE Talk. The podcasts address important contemporary issues in food, agricultural, and resource economics. It is available here: . He has served as an editor of the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics and is currently the acting past-president of the Canadian Agricultural Economics Society.
Aaron Fowler joined Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC) as Chief Agriculture Negotiator in August 2018. He had previously spent his career at Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Aaron served most recently as Executive Director of Tariffs and Market Access at GAC. From 2014 to 2016, Aaron was Director and Deputy Chief Negotiator for Softwood Lumber. From 2010 to 2014, Aaron served as Counsellor – Market Access at Canada’s Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva. Aaron holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of New Brunswick and an MA in International Affairs from Carleton University.
Ellen Goddard is Cooperative Chair in Agricultural Marketing and Business, University of Alberta, since December 2000. The position she holds is from an endowment created by various co-operatives, credit unions and marketing boards in Alberta during the 1980s. She came to Alberta from a position as National Australia Bank Professor of Agribusiness and Associate Dean, Coursework, at the Institute of Land and Food Resources, the University of Melbourne. Prior to that Australian appointment Ellen Goddard worked in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Guelph. Over the past 30 years Professor Goddard’s research has been focused on economic modeling of domestic and international markets for food products (particularly meat) for policy analysis purposes. Current research includes various aspects of food behaviour including consumer response to food safety incidents, consumer interest in labels, demand for credence attributes, traceability and certification. She has also been (and remains) a core social science researcher (GE3LS lead) in five large livestock genomics projects (Genome Canada) –on identifying genes related to animal disease resilience, on identifying genes related to feed efficiency and on identifying and undertaking surveillance for animal disease. In her current role, much of her research has a connection to co-operatives – in terms of fair trade, in terms of market structure outcomes, in terms of farmer development of strategies to sell niche products and livestock genetics sales, as some examples. Ellen has recently served on the Alberta Local Food Council, on the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on the Socio-Economic Impact of Antibiotic Disease Resilience in Canada and on the National Steering Committee for Public Trust in Agriculture.
Richard Gray is a Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources of the University of Saskatchewan. He earned his PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics for University of California, at Berkeley. Since 1990, he has supervised more than fifty graduates students with research topics ranging from international trade, land use, risk and production economics, food safety, economics of nutrition, climate change, food security GM regulation, agricultural marketing, grain transportation and various aspects of agricultural innovation. For the past decade his research has focused on the economics of research, intellectual property management, innovation systems. Prof. Gray led the Canadian Agricultural Innovation Regulation Network from 2003 to 2013 and currently holds the Canadian Grain Policy Chair at the University of Saskatchewan. He also continues to be actively involved in his family’s grain farm.
Dr. Douglas Hedley is a private consultant following many years in the Canadian Public Service in Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. His last position was as Assistant Deputy Minister, programs Branch in AAFC. He has also worked in several countries around the world, USA, South America, Africa and South East Asia with The Rockefeller Foundation and Winrock International, and more recently in Ukraine with the University of Missouri. His overseas work involved farm and experimental farm research, agricultural economic development, development and teaching of postgraduate-level university training in economics, university development, and policy and program development and advice at Ministerial level. He holds Masters and Ph.D degrees in agricultural economics from Michigan State University and a Bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and business administration from the University of Guelph. During his graduate studies, he was a Rockefeller Foundation Overseas Scholar in Colombia and the USA.
Barry Hill and his wife Cheryle operate Hillsfield Farms, a 2,000 acre grains and oilseeds farm on the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. He has worked constantly to promote agriculture both as a business and an asset to the Six Nations community. Barry has served as President and/or director of many organizations, including the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, the Brant County Federation of Agriculture, First Nations AgriGroup, Integrated Grain Processors Cooperative Ethanol Plant and Two Rivers Community Development Fund. He has also been a panel member and a consultant to the Six Nations Economic Development Department. He wrote a column on energy, agriculture and local issues for the Brantford Expositor, and was a member of the Community Editorial Board. From 1993 until 2003 he taught mathematics and computers at Six Nations Polytechnic. He has been Brant County Farmer of the year, a BMO Farm family winner and named a Community Treasure. Prior to his career in agriculture, Barry had a long and successful career as an engineering, and worked on several projects designing and managing computer control systems for both fossil and nuclear generating stations for Ontario Hydro. He completed his career at Ontario Hydro as Manager of Strategic Planning and a member of a task force on developing a policy for Sustainable Development. His interest in history has led to his involvement with preserving and promoting the Mohawk Chapel in Brantford, the oldest Protestant church in Upper Canada, and he recently published a book on the Chapel’s place in the history of the Six Nations people.
Brian Innes, Vice President, Public Affairs, Canola Council of Canada, leads the Canola Council’s public affairs activities including trade policy, market access, government relations and communications. During his time at the Council he has developed the industry’s market access strategy and used it to achieve results in China, the EU and beyond. In recent years a major focus of his role has been bringing the value chain together so that farmers can have innovative seeds and crop protection products while meeting the needs of export customers. He is the past president and current vice president of the Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance (CAFTA), an organization focused on improving market access through trade agreements.
Prior to joining the Canola Council, Brian was a senior consultant with the Ottawa office of an international public affairs firm. Brian also worked on Parliament Hill for the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of National Defence and an Industry Critic. He holds a B.Sc., Agriculture from the University of Guelph and M.Sc., Agricultural Economics from the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK.
Al Mussell is Research Lead, and founder, of Agri-Food Economic Systems, Inc. Prior to establishing Agri-Food Economic Systems, Al was Senior Research Associate at the George Morris Centre in Guelph, Ontario for fifteen years. His areas of research expertise are farm management and agricultural systems, agricultural marketing, and agri-food policies. Previously, Al worked as an economist in the milk procurement division of Land O’Lakes, Inc. in Minnesota.
Al holds bachelors and masters degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Guelph, and a doctorate in agricultural economics from the University of Minnesota, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. Al is a past President of the Canadian Agricultural Economics Society and has served on the board of the Progressive Dairy Operators. He currently serves as Chair of the Ontario Pork Industry Council. Al is originally from Stratford, Ontario where he grew up in a family with roots in the farm supply and dairy business.
Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst is the Executive Director of the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC), Canada’s AgriWorkforce Centre of Excellence. Through collaboration, the Council researches emerging labour issues, modern job requirements, position vacancies and labour impacts to competitiveness. CAHRC also develops practical staff management tools and training programs to grow the AgriWorkforce and ensure it is skilled and resilient for future success.
Portia holds a Master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and has a wealth of experience in strategic Human Resource Management. Ms. MacDonald-Dewhirst is an active contributor to many industry initiatives and is currently guiding the national Labour Task Force and the Agriculture & Agri-food Workforce Action Plan.
Rory McAlpine is Senior Vice President, Government and Industry Relations with Maple Leaf Foods. In this role, Mr. McAlpine has overall responsibility for working with government and industry partners on matters of public policy, programs, regulatory affairs and trade. Mr. McAlpine brings to Maple Leaf Foods a wealth of experience gained during more than 30 years of working in government, trade and agribusiness. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. McAlpine served as Deputy Minister of the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries from 2002 to 2005. He also obtained significant experience with the Federal Government as Executive Director and Director General, International Trade Policy Directorate; Director Grains and Oilseeds Division; and Deputy Director Multilateral Trade with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Mr. McAlpine also held the position of Executive Director of the National Farm Products Council and was a Trade Commissioner with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, with postings in Kuwait, Bangkok, Brussels, Edmonton and Ottawa. Mr. McAlpine holds a Masters degree in Economics from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
John Ross has been the Canadian Pork Council’s Executive Director since 2016. In his role he ensures the views of Canada’s pork producers are effectively represented on national issues such as foreign trade and animal health. He is member of the government-industry African Swine Fever Executive Management Board and has been a long-time advocate of implementing collaborative approaches to managing animal health challenges.
John has had a lifelong passion for livestock. He studied animal science at the University of Guelph (OAC 83). After graduation, he enjoyed a successful career at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. While at the Department he worked through a series of livestock and red meat related positions focusing largely on sectoral development issues. John is also a member of the 4-H Canada Board of Directors.
James Rude is an Associate Professor in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology (REES) at the University of Alberta. James conducts research in the areas of trade policy, agricultural marketing, and price analysis, specifically on the economic impacts of multilateral and regional integration agreements; the WTO Agreement on Agriculture and modeling the impacts of its liberalization; and assessment of emerging issues in trade policy, including: state trading enterprises, direct producer support payments, liberalization of TRQs, and export credit guarantees. James has served as on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Agricultural Economics Society and as on the Editorial Board of the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics.
Dr. Rene Van Acker is Professor and Dean of the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) at the University of Guelph. Prior to his appointment as Dean, Rene was Associate Dean External of OAC (2009-16) and previously chair of the department of Plant Agriculture (2006-09). Prior to his appointments at Guelph, Rene was a professor at the University of Manitoba (1996-2006). Rene is a co-founder of the Food Institute at the University of Guelph (now the Arrell Food Institute) and has played a key roles in fundraising for OAC since 2009. Rene’s research interests include weed management and agronomy. He has published over 130 peer-reviewed works to-date and over 300 other non-peer reviewed contributions. His research on coexistence and genetically modified crops has led to work in Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, France, Germany, Australia, and the US. Rene grew up on a farm in southern Ontario. He holds BSc and MSc degrees from the University of Guelph and a PhD from the University of Reading (UK).