‘I knew I had been nominated for the award. I had forgotten about it. Then there was a letter from the Minister of Agriculture,’ says George Visser, one of 3 inductees into the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame.
‘When I opened it I was stunned. I looked at my wife and said you are not going to believe this. I guess I am going in to the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame. Unbelievable!’
In the 1970's intensive agriculture in Alberta was only beginning. Visser could see that specializing in certain commodities would be important. He led the way by setting up a 130-sow farrow-to-finish operation and a 5,000 hen laying operation on his farm. Others followed suit and during the 1980s the Neerlandia region became one of the most concentrated hog production areas in Alberta.
Visser later joined the Alberta Egg Marketing Board and played a key leadership role in its initial development.
Soon after, he was appointed to the Alberta Agriculture Products Marketing Council, a body that oversees and regulates the various agriculture marketing boards and commissions in the province. Equipped with his experience in agriculture and his negotiating skills, he served as a valuable liaison between the Council and these boards and commissions.
Visser's foresight, hard work, and ability to work with the team around him led to the development of Twin Peak's Feeders Inc. and BarrWest Pork Ltd., 2 large investor-led hog production units. The development of these 2 entities led the way for Alberta hog farming to shift to investor-led production, a trend that was already occurring in Manitoba and around the world.
In 1986, Visser was elected as a councillor for the County of Barrhead. His leadership abilities were soon recognized as he was selected as the county's Reeve and remained in that position for 10 consecutive years. He not only led the county in its various operational functions, but he realized the importance of value-added agriculture and of regional economic development. He represented his office with honesty, dignity and integrity.
Visser was also influential within the Rural Municipalities of Alberta organization. Here, he advocated for rural Alberta on numerous issues, and provided suggestions in the formation of the Municipal Assistance Grant, a provincial program largely formed to assist assessment-challenged municipalities.
George Visser joins Walter Paszkowski and David Price as the 2020 inductees into the Hall of Fame.
Due to public health measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, the in-person 2020 Agriculture Hall of Fame Ceremony was cancelled. The 2020 inductees will be formally recognized at an event, likely in 2021, when it is safe to gather.
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