Who would have thought pork could be so much fun? Farm writers from across Canada were smiling, laughing, grilling and even dancing as they learned more about HyLife last month.
The Manitoba Farm Writers and Broadcasters Association were this year’s host of the Canadian Farm Writers Federation Conference, which was themed ‘The Changing Face of Agriculture.’ There were over 140 writers from publications like RealAgriculture, Western Producer, Manitoba Cooperator, Grain News, FCC Express, Saskatoon Leader-Post, Ontario Grain Farmer and the list goes on.
The conference was a weekend-long experience that kicked off the opening ceremony at the Canadian Human Rights Museum with Manitoba Pork sponsoring the evening event, featuring HyLife Pork appetizers.
The next day the writers chose between three different tours, providing them with a glimpse of the changing face agriculture in Manitoba. The group that selected to visit HyLife started at Connery’s Vegetable Farm near Portage la Prairie in the morning, stopped for a tour and at the Farmery Estate Brewery near Neepawa, and then ended up in Neepawa to learn about HyLife’s passion for pork.
The HyLife team gave the writers an informative session at a local community hall that gave an overview of the company and its growth, specifically in Neepawa. Lyane Cypres, Manager of the Cut Floor at the plant, shared her story on her adventure to HyLife from the Philippines and how the company helped her grow into a role that overseas 350 plus employees.
“I learned today about how much pork is produced in Manitoba and how respected it is around the world,” said Rachel Telford with Grain Farmers of Ontario when learning that HyLife processes over two million hogs annually.
After the classroom session, the writers then exchanged their pens and notepads for aprons and barbeque tongs to taste and learn how to grill a pork steak.
“It was a great experience,” added Telford, who went as far to say that it was the highlight of her day. “The hands-on cook-off competition that we did was very engaging and fun. And then to be able to taste the HyLife Pork product was amazing, some of the best pork that I have tasted in a long time.”
Not only did the writers from a far learn something new about HyLife during the event, but also local writers from Manitoba said they also took away new knowledge from the afternoon.
“I knew HyLife had an impact on the community in and around Neepawa, but today explained and reaffirmed that for me,” said Kelvin Heppner from RealAgriculture about HyLife’s employee base of over 1400 people in Neepawa. “I also learned about what goes on in the plant with the focus on Japan and the chilled pork aspect of the Japanese market.”
One of the other tours took writers further west to explore the beef sector with visits to the Manitoba Bull Test Station and SG&R Farms Inc. near Forrest. The third group stayed in Winnipeg checking out the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals, where they learned about the world class research done in Manitoba between what we grow, how we eat and how healthy we feel.
The conference is held every fall in one of the six provincial/regional member organizations. Last year it was in Quebec, and in 2019 it will be hosted in British Columbia.