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Wheat Growers name new chief

Kevin Bender, a grain and oilseed grower from west-central Alberta, has been named the new president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association.

Bender, 38, replaces Cherilyn Jolly-Nagel, who farms at Mossbank, Sask. and previously said she would step down as president but will remain on the association board.

“The Wheat Growers have a proud history of promoting open and competitive markets and I plan to continue in that tradition,” said Bender, who farms with his brother and father at Bentley, about 35 km northwest of Red Deer. The family grows barley, canola, oats, peas and spring and winter wheat on 3,800 acres.

Bender, who’s also a director with the Alberta Canola Producers Commission, has served on the Wheat Growers’ board of directors and has been its representative to the board of the Western Grains Research Foundation.

Bender’s resume also includes a bachelor’s degree in religion from Taylor University College, a private Edmonton undergraduate college that announced last month it will close by the end of June. (Taylor Seminary, a connected theological grad school, will remain open.)

Wheat Growers chairman Mike Bast thanked Jolly-Nagel for her “instrumental” role in renewing the organization. The association, founded in 1970 as the Palliser Wheat Growers Association, ground to a halt in 2003 but was revived shortly afterward with Jolly-Nagel as president.

“She strengthened the voice of our association and will continue to make a valuable contribution to our industry,” Bast said.

Bender’s election by the association board comes just ahead of the group’s annual meeting, which will run from Wednesday through Friday in Winnipeg.

Scheduled speakers at the meeting include Dennis Avery of the U.S.-based Hudson Institute; Neil Wandel, chairman of CBH Group of Australia; Canadian Wheat Board CEO Ian White; Canadian Grain Commission chief commissioner Elwin Hermanson; Canadian Fertilizer Institute chairman Clyde Graham; CropLife Canada president Lorne Hepworth; and Manitoba ag journalist and commentator Les Kletke.

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