Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

November 08, 2004

Soybean leader receives MacMillan Laureate in Agriculture

The University of Guelph presented its prestigious H.R. MacMillan Laureate in Agriculture to Peter Hannam, a leader in Canada’s soybean industry, today at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. The $10,000 award is given every five years to an individual judged to have made the most significant contribution to agriculture in Canada during the preceding five years.

In making the award, U of G president Alastair Summerlee said: “Peter Hannam is a pivotal figure in Canadian agriculture. This award celebrates his achievements in business and research, and also recognizes Peter for encouraging students, academics and entrepreneurs to strive for new ideas in soybean product development.”

“The University of Guelph has been very important to me in my education, my farming and the industry of agriculture,” said Hannam. “That is why I very much appreciate this recognition from such an esteemed institution.”

The award was presented in the presence of chair of the federal standing committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food Paul Steckle, and Ontario Minister of Agriculture and Food Steve Peters. “The Canadian agriculture industry has benefited from the contributions Peter has made throughout his lifetime,” said Steckle. “He is very deserving of this award.”

Hannam is only the eighth recipient of this award. The late Harvey MacMillan of Vancouver, a 1906 graduate of OAC and a 1966 recipient of an honorary doctorate of laws from U of G, established the award in 1969.

A Guelph graduate, Hannam has been active in Ontario agriculture and agribusiness for more than 25 years. A former Ontario Federation of Agriculture president, he founded First Line Seeds Ltd. in 1982, retiring as its president in August. He and his son, Greg, also own and operate Woodrill Farms.

Hannam’s contributions to the agriculture industry have been recognized with a Queen’s Jubilee Medal, a Fellowship in the Agricultural Institute of Canada, the Soybean Achievement Award from the Ontario Soybean Growers, the Innovation Award from Monsanto Canada, the Agri-Marketer of the Year Award from the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association, and the Distinguished Agrologist Award from the Ontario Institute of Agrologists.

“Peter continues to bring together different agriculture sectors,” said Peters. “His support for the Ontario AgriCentre, which will be a professional home for agriculture, processing and agro-industrial organizations, is proof of his ongoing dedication to this industry.” The Ontario AgriCentre is scheduled to open in the fall of 2005 opposite the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food head office in Guelph.

“I will be investing this monetary reward in specialized communication equipment in the media centre that is proposed for the Ontario AgriCentre,” said Hannam. “I will also make it available to students in the agricultural communications course at the university for enhanced media training.”

With Hannam’s help, Soy 20/20 – a program designed to help match soybean research with market opportunities and to co-ordinate information and opportunities along the value chain – was launched in 2001. He now serves as chair of Soy 20/20.

Hannam and his family established the $1-million Hannam Soybean Utilization Fund at U of G in 2001 to promote innovative medical, industrial and nutritive uses and marketing strategies for Ontario soybeans. The program has provided funding for up to six research projects each year.

In the 1990s, Hannam had an idea for a contest at U of G that would encourage students to develop new uses for soybeans. The idea was further developed by his staff at First Line Seeds and employees at U of G, and Project SOY was born. Through Project SOY, students receive a professional assessment of their invention and are offered business development assistance in commercializing it.

Hannam is a representative on U of G’s advisory committee on bioproducts research, established to help launch new research projects in bioproducts that could be produced from Ontario agriculture. Since 2002, he has also been a member of the deputy minister of agriculture’s advisory committee on life sciences.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, Ext. 56982.

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