Barley Talk

Born and raised on a farm in small town Richmond, ON, new Barley Council of Canada (BCC) executive director Phil de Kemp epitomizes the spirit of the organization.

DSC_2673 copy 2Phil de Kemp’s resume includes chapters as a successful commodity’s trader and grains coordinator at Cargill, a senior policy advisor to the Minister of State (grains and oilseeds/CWB), executive director of the Canadian National Miller’s Association, and president of the Malting Industry Association of Canada. His wealth of knowledge encompassing all members of the value chain will be invaluable to the Council.

For Mr. de Kemp, life is all about balance. “In order to be successful in life, you have to balance family, work, and play— always doing your best to put family first,” says Mr. de Kemp. Despite his impressive resume of professional accolades, being married 29 years and father to three is what he views as the culmination of his success.

Building the ‘Canadian brand’ for barley is a prime objective for Mr. de Kemp in bolstering the country’s reputation abroad. “Canadian barley needs to be built on more than just price. Messaging is crucial in showing the value we can offer,” he says.

Mr. de Kemp has a history of success in international relations. His most notable accomplishment was helping to spearhead the elimination of subsidizations on malt barley exports.

During the 80s and 90s there was a lot of subsidization of grains. This led to what Mr. de Kemp describes as a “subsidy war between the U.S. and Europe in which Canada was caught in the cross hairs.”

With a team, Mr. de Kemp was able to build relationships with the European Commission, demonstrate how and why subsidizing was unnecessary and within three years there was no longer a subsidy attached to exporting Canadian barley. Removing this regulation has put millions and millions of dollars back into producers’ pockets.

Most recently, Mr. de Kemp was heavily involved in securing a significant increase of malt volume into Korea re: the Canada-Korea free trade agreement. The agreement will undoubtedly be of benefit to all farmers by enabling new markets to open abroad.

A leader like Mr. de Kemp offers the BCC 25 years of organizational, political, and agronomic savvy.

When speaking of future intentions for the BCC, Mr. de Kemp asserts, “Our success is dependant on the success of all other members of the value chain. The BCC offers the entire value chain a seat at the table.”

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