Jim Baillie – 2017 CSGA Robertson Associate Award

Originally from a family dairy farm near Tatamagouche, N.S., Jim is a graduate of the former Nova Scotia Agricultural College, now Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus.

Upon graduation, he joined a farm wholesale retail group in Atlantic Canada and with them specialized in the crop input service sector throughout the Atlantic provinces. Within five years he shifted to management of a major feed mill and farm centre near Charlottetown. Over the next 10 years, Jim managed a number of feed and farm centres through Atlantic Canada.

In the mid-1990s, he decided the appeal of farming was his calling and he developed a forestry harvesting and silviculture business in partnership with a field crop farm. In 1997 he added pedigreed seed production to the farm.

At that point, hybrid canola seed production in Atlantic Canada was proving to be a successful cropping opportunity. Availability of smaller fields in remote areas, assurance of adequate moisture, soon-to-be canola seed production skills, and a small but acceptable infrastructure led to nearly a decade of pedigreed seed production from certified to breeder levels.

When consolidation of the seed canola industry ramped up, Jim shifted to limited flax and cereal seed production for several years.

At the same time, the shift to increasing the development and management of wild blueberries became the main focus of the farm. Success and re-investment in wild blueberries has been rewarding for Jim. Presently, the wild blueberry industry is undergoing a major rethinking of the marketplace. Wild blueberry production research and technology has allowed major advancements in production that has led to major surpluses. Now the industry is in the initial stages of market and product development that will lead it into the next decade.

Jim recognizes the leadership benefits created by active farm organizations. To this end, he has been involved in each sector he has participated in over the years — from committee to board to executive positions, he allocates the time necessary to assist in the development of his sector. Participation takes time away from family and farm, but he is blessed with the support of his wife Brenda — also his key staff member.

Seed growers and seed grower groups have a special meaning to Jim. From his initial work on the Maritime Branch Board to his later role as president of CSGA, Jim has developed a mindset that welcomes change that strengthens not only the position of seed growers but of the whole seed sector as well.