Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) honoured William (Bill) Copeland with the Pulse Legacy Award for his contributions to the pulse industry as an early lentil adopter and an entrepreneur in pulse processing.

“Bill Copeland is an early pioneer in the pulse industry,” says Corey Loessin, SPG Chair. “He has not only taken risks as a producer, but is one of the earliest in the pulse processing sector. He is a leader and an innovator for the pulse industry.”

Bill Copeland was born and raised in Rosetown, Saskatchewan and received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree from the University of Saskatchewan (U of S). He returned home to farm near Rosetown but maintained his connection to his alma mater, working closely with Dr. Al Slinkard, offering up his land to the U of S for test plots for crop research.

Thanks to his connection with the U of S and Dr. Al Slinkard, Copeland was one of the first growers in his area to experiment with green lentils in his crop rotations as a new means to generate revenue for his farm. In 1969 he was approached by a local grain company to process lentils for the purpose of exporting to international markets, one of the first growers in Saskatchewan to do so. In 1978 Bill created Copeland Seeds, a separate arm from his farm, that was responsible for seed cleaning, providing seed as a Select Seed grower, and processing pulses and special crops.

“When I first started working with pulses, I never could imagine how this would grow over the years,” says Bill Copeland. “To see how much the industry has expanded, and how Saskatchewan has played a major role, is truly something to be seen.”

Bill Copeland is the third person to receive the Pulse Legacy Award. Dr. Alfred Slinkard was presented with the award in 2013, recognizing him as one of the founders of the Saskatchewan pulse industry. The late Dr. Guy Lafond was honoured in 2015 for his significant impact on soil conservation and improvements to prairie agricultural practices. The award is intended to honour individuals who have made industry-changing contributions to the Canadian pulse industry throughout his or her career.

Accountable to and funded by growers, SPG’s strategic direction is guided by a seven member, grower-elected, Board of Directors. SPG’s mission is to provide leadership for profitable growth for Saskatchewan pulses.