Keystone Agriculture Producers debated who should take the title of Manitoba’s worst road as producers gathered here for a general council meeting July 8 and compared notes on the province’s crumbling rural roadways.
Improving rural infrastructure was clearly a top priority to the province’s producers following a discussion over resolutions at the KAP general council meeting held in Brandon.
“I know that there are roads throughout every district that people feel need to be addressed. My concern is with regards to public safety and damage to vehicles,” said Bill Campbell, District 1 representative. “The condition of these roads is an accident waiting to happen. There have been some signs put up to help identify bad areas, but my belief is that there is not enough orange paint in the hardware stores to identify all of these dangerous spots in southwestern Manitoba.”
Along with seeking infrastructure improvements, the group passed six other resolutions that the executive board will take forward.
KAP will be lobbying for weed control in areas following road construction, ensuring farm visitors follow biosecurity protocols, garnering support for the development and growth of the inland aquaculture industry and urging both the federal and provincial governments to establish a new Green Cover program to improve the sustainability of livestock producers.
“We are continuing to lobby for improvements across the board to keep farms profitable and sustainable, from better Hydro service to assisting farmers in the event they receive workplace safety inspections,” said KAP president, Dan Mazier.
KAP wants to work with Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers, and the Manitoba Corn Grower’s Association to research herbicide resistance within stacked-trait soybeans, corn and canola, to better inform KAP members about the potential effects of herbicide resistance in Manitoba.
Prior to passing resolutions, KAP’s executive board presented updates on membership, finances, and discussed ongoing industry issues.
District and commodity reports were presented with most reporting an average season despite a late frost, hail and dry conditions.
“I have been calling it a good, average year. We do have our problems, especially with the late-May frost,” said Mazier. “I personally had to reseed 50 per cent of my canola, but that seems to be a general theme throughout the province.”
KAP general manager, James Battershill reported membership has grown by 500.
“Our membership report tells a very positive story. At the end of June we had 3,243 members, 500 more than this time last year,” said Battershill. “I think that this is something that we should celebrate and something that speaks well for the organization as a whole.”
Over the past year KAP has doubled its efforts towards building membership, including the addition of staff member, Jacquie Nicholson, who has taken on the role of membership co-ordinator.
The group reviewed resolutions from the April general council meeting, including the issues of temporary foreign workers, strengthening relationships with new and small producers, water retention research and ways to better the urban and rural connection.
KAP reports making headway in the area of fuel storage, boasting the recent announcement from both the federal and provincial governments on funds allocated to a related BMP.
“KAP successfully lobbied the province to add funding for an on-farm fuel storage BMP through the environmental farm program,” said Mazier. “A new fuel storage BMP has been announced with the application process beginning on July 13.”
The organization is also working with the minister of conservation to get a statement in writing regarding grandfathering single-walled fuel containers.
“We have been given their assurance that they will allow grandfathering but we are still waiting on a formal letter from the minister of conservation. They are expecting this BMP program to roll out over the next few years,” said Battershill.
Battershill also reiterated KAP’s ongoing support for producers facing expropriation issues surrounding Manitoba Hydro’s Bipole III.
“We are still going to keep working on this and are holding regular meetings with Manitoba Hydro, advocating for a conversation to happen,” said Battershill. “It is a challenging situation but certainly one that we are not letting die.”
Agriculture risk management task force
Former KAP president, Doug Chorney, was on hand to make a presentation regarding the province’s Agriculture Risk Management Task Force that will be actively holding public consultation meetings throughout the province over the next several weeks.
“We have experienced extreme weather events on an ongoing basis. It has been a very difficult time for producers in Manitoba and throughout Western Canada,” said Chorney. “The Ag Risk Task Force is mandated to promote new solutions and to look at where we have tools in place that maybe need to be changed.”
Chorney joins Derek Brewin, John DeVos, Frieda Krpan and Goldwyn Jones as members of the task force that is chaired by Bill Uruski.
The public consultations began in Melita on July 9 and are being facilitated in a workshop format.
“We need to have better solutions. We can’t sustain our industry without looking at a different approach. The experiences we are having with flooding and drought, year after year are just too much for people to endure individually,” said Chorney. “We all take steps on our farms to mitigate risk exposure but we can’t do it all ourselves and I think there is a good argument to be made for public policy to support farmers.”
The task force will be presenting its findings and recommendations to the minister in December.
Those unable to attend the public consultation can comment online. Online submissions will be accepted until September 30.
For further information on submissions and public consultation dates, visit the Manitoba Agriculture website.