Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam is a crop farmer who made a difference far beyond his land, his county, his province, even beyond his country. His focus was soy which he was instrumental in making a major Canadian crop despite our short growing season. Peter learned of the challenge while a student at the University of Guelph, and first on his own farm, then as co-founder of First Line Seeds -- bringing a new technology and marketing opportunity to Canadian growers.

Born and raised at Woodrill Farms in Guelph, Peter has lived most of his life in the Guelph area. After graduation in 1962, he quickly became involved in farm organizations and received numerous awards and recognition: the Bank of Montreal Centennial Travel Scholarship in 1967; the OAC Centennial Medal in 1974, the OMAF Centennial Award in 1988, and more than a dozen others right up to the present day. Peter served as president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture 1977-79, a director of the Canadian Seed Trade Association, chair of the Canadian Soybean Export Association, chair of Soy 20/20, director of the CFA, and advisor to provincial governments, the University of Guelph and OAC, and many other agricultural industry organizations.

In 1982, Peter led a group of 12 independent seed growers to establish First Line Seeds, a company of which he served as president for 20 years. The company continued to improve the line of seed, with better genetics and improved quality. Not content with just growing soy successfully, Peter pushed the development of niche markets for food grade soybeans and the contract production of identity preserved soybean crops. He established exports to other countries needing the growing advantages offered by First Line soy seed.

Peter was one of the first Canadian farmers to try Roundup, in the '70s. He was convinced that the marriage of technology and biotechnology offered promise. He aligned First Line with Asgrow Seed Company, the leading soybean breeder, developer and distributor in the USA. The next move, into Roundup Ready soybeans, symbolized Peter’s continuous commitment to keep on the cutting edge of new technology. In the early-'90s Peter anticipated that this new tool could become important for Canadian farmers, and First Line offered the first varieties of this new crop in the country. Monsanto bought into First Line in 1998, and then bought it outright in 2004.

Nominated By:
  • Monsanto Inc.