Crop Club continues to be an integral piece of the Oil Caps puzzle


 Ag Summit to be held in November at Tundra Oil and Gas Place

By: Lanny Stewart

It’s much more than just a partnership for the Virden Oil Capitals.

The Oil Caps Crop Club has become an extension of the organization to help connect with its agricultural partners in showcasing their businesses, new technologies, services or genetics in a way that allows area growers to learn and advance their operations, says Craig Davidson, a member of the board of directors for the Oil Caps and a lead organizer of the Crop Club.

He says since the club’s inception, the Oil Caps have farmed many acres and have grown canola, soybeans and corn – with a goal of generating exposure and providing a learning experience with the hopes of harvesting enough yield to generate additional funds that would go towards supporting the hockey team.

“As with farming, we may not end up with a positive result, but we’ve been fortunate over the years that a decent crop has always been able to be harvested,” Davidson said.

In previous years, the Oil Caps have rented land to farm, and more recently, have partnered with Louis Dreyfus, an ag company, and are farming 65 acres of their land south of their elevator.

This year, we’re going with a Dow specialty canola that Louis Dreyfus takes in and offers a premium to area growers,” Davidson added.

He says when you look at the greater southwest region of Manitoba and the southeast region of Saskatchewan, the two main industries that support their respective communities are agriculture and oil – and that the ag industry continues to be a big part of the Oil Caps from the board on out to the players that come through the organization over the years.

“The Crop Club has been a means to work closer with our ag partners and offer value to area growers,” Davidson said. “I think with life as it stands today, people still enjoy people. The agriculture industry is no different and I think when it comes to the Oil Caps hockey club, our game nights are as much about the entertainment on the ice as it is a meeting place for people to get together and socialize with neighbors or maybe producers an hour down the road.”

Davidson says agriculture is a “high stakes business” today and that by having and keeping an open mind by learning and listening from one another, it’s allowed the industry to create more success for all involved.

“In a way, the Oil Caps Crop Club is a part of that process,” he added.

Jamie Hodson, director of business and hockey operations for the Oil Capitals, says the Crop Club is always a big part of the organization’s financials on a yearly basis – and at the same time, believes all the Oil Caps’ partners have been fantastic in helping with the Crop Club since its inception.

“We feel, and I think our partners feel, that we’ve done a suitable job publicizing all our ag partners, whether that’s through social media or publishing our results through the field data on a yearly basis and really garnishing a lot of recognition to our ag partners,” Hodson said. “We’re not just asking, we’re trying to give back as much as we can to help nurture those partnerships. We recognize they’re a huge help for us, but we also want to be a big help for them and getting their name out there, their company out there and their varieties out there – whether it’s soybean, canola, corn – and really pumping that out for them.”

Barry Hutchison, owner of Hutch Ag and part owner of the Oil Caps, has been a partner of the Crop Club since it first got started. He says although the hockey team is great for the community, it doesn’t survive on ticket sales alone.

“…So being a part of crop club has helped the hockey club survive,” he said. “I look at it as a donation to the community versus a donation to the Oil Caps. As for my business, it helps me profile new varieties, provides yields with competitors and is another source of advertising that lets farmers and customers, as well as the public, know that I’m out there.”

This year, the Oil Caps Crop Club is going down a bit of a different path, opting for a one-day Oil Caps Ag Summit, to be held mid-November at Tundra Oil and Gas Place. The event is to allow for a larger audience of area growers looking to attend an educational event where the Oil Caps ag partners could be involved and can showcase their new technologies, products and services for the upcoming 2019 season.

Keynote speakers from both business and personal development backgrounds, are expected to be at the upcoming event. The goal, Davidson says, is for everyone who attends to come away with a positive learning experience and to have a chance at networking with businesses and other producers. The event, which is set to take place on Nov. 15, also coincides with an Oil Caps game day as Virden will host the Steinbach Pistons that night.

“It will be a full-day event with a supper and hockey game for all those attending,” Davidson added. “Our goal will be to have agricultural businesses and producers from all of western Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan.”

There will be more information released about the Ag Summit in the coming weeks.