A century of service is an impressive record of commitment. The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA), 100 years old in 2013, is reflecting on the significance of being the oldest functioning agricultural organization in the province.
“What we do today is basically the same thing we’ve been doing for one hundred years,” says President Harold Martens, SSGA President. “Stock Growers works for the betterment of the industry with the goal of creating more value for individual producers.”
At its founding convention in Moose Jaw in 1913, the SSGA established clear objectives to forward and safeguard legislation that would meet changing conditions and requirements for livestock producers. In that era the major challenges of herd laws, fences and marketing took precedence as livestock producers fought to prove and sustain the value of animal production on the Prairies.
A lot has changed in 100 years, including the currently relevant issues, but the focus of SSGA remains steadfast. A well-recognized and trusted entity, the organization is called upon to serve on a wide range of cattle industry stakeholder boards, initiatives and advisory groups.
“The willingness to listen to other opinions is probably the most important thing we’ve built upon over the years,” says Martens. “As independent cattlemen we might talk a little tougher at home, but we must accommodate other opinions when working with others toward common goals.”
History and people have positioned SSGA as a go-to group for policy-makers and government agencies wanting input on key issues and changes. Some current projects with the provincial government include the beef and forage review, PFRA pasture divestiture file, a look at the opportunity to privatize brand inspection services and ongoing input into Growing Forward II.
“The people who went before us worked hard to build a reputation that gained the confidence of the government. We’ve worked hard to keep it,” says Martens. “Our mandate is to allow ranchers and cattlemen the chance to grow their investment. We value independence, but you often have to work with others in order to maintain it.”
The role of volunteers has been pivotal to SSGA. Directors are not paid for the countless hours they dedicate to the organization. It can be difficult to carve significant amounts of time away from individual businesses over extended periods. The result is sometimes evident in board member turn-over but that renewal, while at times challenging, often brings value in terms of fresh ideas, energy and opportunity.
Martens and his board view the 100th anniversary as an important historical marker, while recognizing that the work of the organization is far from done.
“It’s a significant milestone,” Martens says. “I see it as an affirmation of the fact that we’ve remained true to our principles over 100 years. Not many agricultural organizations have been able to stand the test of time in the same way that SSGA and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association have done.”
Join the “Riding for the Brand” Celebration
In the early days of cattle ranching, a brand became each ranch’s trademark, representative of pride, duty and stewardship and inspired loyalty and commitment. In tribute to the ongoing commitment by SSGA and its members to the betterment of the cattle industry in Saskatchewan, “Riding for the Brand” has been chosen as the theme for the 100th annual general meeting and convention and the anniversary celebrations.
The SSGA 100th Annual General Meeting and Convention and anniversary celebrations will take place in Moose Jaw, where it all began, June 9 through June 11.
June 9th will provide the excitement of traditional ranch rodeo. Familiar brands will battle for top honours in a variety of working cowboy events, followed by a celebratory barbecue and old-fashioned barn dance.
The 100th Annual General Meeting is scheduled for June 10th and 11th at the Moose Jaw Exhibition Company Convention Centre. The agenda will provide speakers and timely industry topics of the high calibre you’ve come to expect from this event. Enjoy an industry trade show and business networking, concluding with a gala anniversary banquet on Tuesday evening.
Plan to join in the celebration. For more information about becoming a delegate, sponsor or trade show exhibitor, contact the SSGA office at 306-757-8523 or firstname.lastname@example.org.