Members of the Killarney Marketing Club see the advantages of choosing collaboration over competition
Collaborating with neighbouring producers has helped a group of Killarney farmers broaden its perspective and gain a competitive edge.
For the past 25 years, the Killarney Marketing Club has gathered once a week to share insights and tips of the trade.
“Farming is a very complex business and things are always changing,” said Blake Bell, club member for the past 18 years. “Part of the challenge is figuring out what to do next or what to try and that is the benefit of having a group of producers like this. We can bounce ideas off each other.”
The club initially began as a way for local farmers to pool together to trade futures and buy options, but over the years, its focus has shifted to production techniques.
“We don’t talk about the markets all that much anymore because everyone has a different philosophy on how they want to market their grain,” said Dennis Turner, founding member and club president. “We do discuss different strategies and theories, but there isn’t a lot of specifics discussed. It has become much more of a networking opportunity.”
The club often takes part in crop tours, invites presenters to demonstrate new products or applications and has previously arranged tours of machinery manufacturers, grain and chemical companies.
“I find that if you just stay at home you get a bit of barnyard blindness and you can become a little bit disconnected with what is going on in the farming community around you,” said Turner. “This has been our way of staying current.”
At 25, Cory Archibald is one of the club’s youngest members and has been involved with the group for the past four years. “This group is really a mix of the best local producers and we all come together to share our ideas, thoughts and new techniques,” he said. “It is really just a good networking thing and I really think it gives us a competitive edge compared to other farming communities.”
The group currently consists of 21 members who run a variety of operations including grain, oilseed, hogs, chickens and cattle.
“It is interesting because one guy will try something, a new product or a different practice and you can kind of share it and learn from their mistakes and successes,” said Scott Kroeker, a club member for the past six years.
“That is the beauty of farming, everyone has their own way of doing things. But you can often take away something that others have tried and apply it on your own farm.”
Despite contrasting production philosophies and dealer loyalties, group members find that openly exchanging information and ideas only strengthens their local operations.
“There are definitely some arguments and tension between old versus new and new ideas versus tried-and-true practices sometimes, but we all just discuss and respect each other’s positions,” said Archibald.
Many rural communities across Manitoba had organized similar groups in the past but most have failed to stay active or maintain membership.
“I think we have stayed alive because of the good members we have and the willingness that people have to share,” said Kroeker. “If you don’t share, you don’t get anything out of it and that is probably why a lot of them die off.”
Today, the club has a close-knit group that is proud to mark 25 years. The farmers say membership definitely gives them a competitive edge in the industry.
“This information has proved to be so valuable. I know without a doubt that information we have taken home from these meetings has had a direct positive effect not only to our farm but to our bottom line,” said Betty Turner, longtime member.