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New Hire Ron Pidskalny, Canadian Forage and Grassland Assoc.

Published on 06 March 2014
Ron Pidskalny
Ron Pidskalny, M.Sc., P.Ag.
Executive Director
Edmonton, Alberta
Canadian Forage and Grassland Association

What are your new responsibilities?
  • Provide strategic guidance, lead partnership development and spearhead fundraising efforts for the CFGA
  • Work with the board and CFGA’s four major committees, the Producer/User Committee, the Forage Export and Domestic Development Committee, the Research and Extension Committee and the CFGA Environment Committee, to help coordinate responses to issues at a national level and to effectively initiate projects that address production issues, new technology and trade barriers.
  • Act as a liaison between the CFGA and a range of external stakeholders, including organizations such as the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and the Dairy Farmers of Canada, various environmental and conservation organizations, provincial and federal government research and trade specialists, as well as business leaders in the forage industry sector.
What territory will you cover?

Please describe your agricultural background.
I worked as research scientist in crop protection product development for Cyanamid Crop Protection, Wyeth-Ayerst and BASF for 17 years, creating innovative products for use in conventional and genetically modified crops. In this capacity, I also worked in the area of Competitive Intelligence, analyzing data and applying business tools such as STEEP, SWOT, Benchmarking, Porter’s Five Forces, patent profiling and technology trend analysis. I hold two international patents in the area of herbicide physiology: A herbicidal composition and method of safening gramineous crops against heterocyclic phenyl ethers, and Synergistic herbicidal methods and compositions using an aryloxypicolinamide herbicide. I also invented ODYSSEY herbicide for field peas while working at Cyanamid Crop Protection in 1992.

What education are you bringing with you to this position?
  • Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (B.S.A.), Plant Sciences, Entomology (University of Manitoba)
  • Master of Science (M.Sc.), Plant Pathology/Phytopathology (University of Manitoba)
  • Two years of Ph.D. coursework, wheat breeding/cytogenetics (University of Saskatchewan)
What previous positions have you held?
  • Currently I work as a consultant in technology commercialization, competitiveness, and business strategy development, and serve as the minor use procurement officer for the Prairie Pesticide Minor Use Consortium.
  • Senior project manager for the Canadian National Transplant Research Program, leading the application process, which included the coordination and development of a five-year national budget that totaled $31M for a team of more than 110 principle investigators
  • Business development officer, Bioproducts and Biofuels for Genome Alberta
  • Senior research specialist and research and business analyst with Cyanamid, Wyeth-Ayerst and BASF
  • Served on the Board of Governors of the Agricultural Institute of Canada
  • Served as western director of the Canadian Society of Agronomy
Who has made the biggest impact on your career?
Garry Kinoshita, the manager of our R&D department at Cyanamid, where I started in my first full-time position in 1987. He lived empowerment by hiring good people and then getting out of their way. He was honest, fair and had strong moral principles – and he always led by example. Garry was also a lot of fun to work with, had a great sense of humour and could take a joke as well as he could give one.

How will you be of most help to producers in your region or area of expertise?
Of most help may be my background in business strategy development. As CFGA continues to grow, it will need to engage multiple stakeholders on a range of issues and will likely enter into a number of complex business relationships. CFGA, because of the range of issues that are of concern to its stakeholders, will also need to liaise with like-minded organizations in the public and private sector, as well as with a range of not-for-profit environmental and conservation organizations – in addition to its historical and more traditional partners in dairy and livestock production.

Why did you choose this company?
I think I have finally come to a point in my career where I have a sufficiently broad portfolio of skills, and the depth of experience required to run an organization with this level of complexity. Also, the board chairman and his right-hand man assured me in my interview that this would be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for all concerned.

What goals would you like to accomplish while in this position?
I have three goals, the first of which is capturing the value of Environmental Goods and Services (EGS). Society needs to be convinced of its obligation to support the environmental value contributed through the good stewardship of the forage and rangeland resources of agricultural landowners. A number of independent, well respected and trusted environmental groups will be engaged to help CFGA improve the recognition of the value of EGS. The second is improving forage and grassland research capacity in Canada and the third is to attempt to reverse the marginalization of forages in Canada, specifically the displacement of forage crops from better land in favour of higher value annual crops.  PD