2006 Mr. Peter Hannam, BSc (Agr) '62 | Alumni | University of Guelph

2006 Mr. Peter Hannam, BSc (Agr) '62

Judy Maddren

Mr. Peter Hannam
BSc (Agr) '62

An innovative leader is perhaps the best way to describe Peter Hannam. Since graduating from  the University of Guelph in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Peter has become a pivotal figure in Canadian agriculture, specifically the soybean industry. His vision and strong belief in research have helped propel the soybean to its position as Ontario's largest field crop, covering 2.35 million acres of farmland.

Sensing a potential for soybeans, Peter established First Line Seeds in 1982 and grew the  company into one of Canada's largest soybean seed suppliers. As president, he oversaw the research, development and marketing of high-yielding, coolclimate soybean lines a commitment that ensured Ontario farmers could compete with other soybean processing markets, even in Japan. When soybean production grew to meet Ontario's existing market needs, Peter created a multi-faceted campaign to add value to soybeans and focused on supporting research to give the industry a competitive edge.  In 2001, he assisted with the launch of Soy 20/20, a program designed to match soybean research with market opportunities. He also was a member of the University of Guelph Bioproducts Committee set up to stimulate the commercialization of bioproducts in Canada.

Peter's personal commitment to soybean research was demonstrated by his family's creation of the Hannam Soybean Utilization Fund, a $1-million contribution to the University of Guelph that is being used to promote innovative medical, industrial and nutritive uses, as well as marketing strategies for Ontario soybeans. Now in its fourth year, the program has provided funding for up to six research projects each year, with topics ranging from human health to the environment.

Students are best acquainted with Peter Hannam through his creation of Project SOY (Soybean Opportunities for Youth), a contest that encourages students to develop innovative uses for soybeans. First launched in the mid 1990's, Project SOY features a professional assessment of University students' inventions, as well as business development assistance in commercializing inventions.  

Peter continues to advance agriculture through strong, visionary leadership, both in the community and at the University of Guelph. One of his most recent initiatives was the creation of the Ontario AgriCentre in Guelph. The facility gives new visibility to agriculture and offers a focal point for disparate commodity and professional agricultural groups dispersed across the city and the province. At the University, Peter was a member of the OAC International Advisory Council, and has received the prestigious H. R. MacMillan Laureate in Agriculture, which is presented every five years to an individual who has made significant contributions to Agriculture in Canada.

It is with great pleasure that the University of Guelph Alumni Association named Peter Hannam as Alumnus of Honour for 2006.


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