Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) is looking for a new general manager.
James Battershill is leaving the position at year’s end to pursue a venture in food processing, KAP president Bill Campbell told KAP’s advisory council here Nov. 12.
“I did give the (KAP) board some assurance that I would stick around long enough to make sure that the office kept rolling, payroll kept getting done and that they were well positioned for the annual meeting in February,” Battershill said during a break in the meeting. “But in all likelihood I’ll be sort of winding down full time at the end of November and then doing part time…”
The hope is to have someone in place near the beginning of January who Battershill can then come in and give some support on training.
KAP has hired a firm to find a new general manager, Campbell said.
Battershill was tight lipped about his new venture, other than to say it has nothing to do with marijuana edibles or alcohol production.
“It’s a food-processing venture so I am sure that people will see and hear about it,” Battershill said.
Battershill said he has been working on the project evenings and weekends for about nine months. He noted there’s a lot of provincial government support and resources available to food processors in Manitoba.
Battershill, who started with KAP as its policy analyst, has been general manager for 5-1/2 years.
After earning a degree in global political economy from the University of Manitoba, Battershill who grew up in Winnipeg, came to KAP with little background in agriculture.
“My introduction to agriculture and ag policy was I did a project on the global coffee economy,” he said. “And it was really one of my first entries into the complex and wonderful world of ag public policy.”
Without a doubt working for KAP has been enjoyable, Battershill said.
“It’s important and rewarding work,” he said. “I’ve worked with some incredible people.
“My very first meaningful trip to a farm was going to hang out for an afternoon and ride in (Starbuck farmer) Chuck Fossay’s combine and harvest some canola with him. I’ve been very privileged early on to get connected with a lot of really intelligent and experienced farmers in Manitoba. One of my first days of training really was hanging out with Reg Dyck (of Starbuck) for an entire afternoon just talking about rail transportation policy. I certainly didn’t have that experience right from the beginning but you sort of are immersed with such intelligent people and people who are willing to share and don’t make you feel silly about asking some basic questions so you became immersed in it and learned a lot very quickly.”
Other memorable events for Battershill include:
- Attending his first provincial legislative committee hearing with then KAP vice-president Robert McLean.
- Crashing a meeting of two federal ministers during the 2013 grain transportation crisis.
- KAP’s first meeting in 2016 with Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay. KAP raised its concerns about the risk of not fixing the cuts to AgriStability.
- Being appointed to the Winnipeg Food Council.
- A Saturday morning conference call with then KAP president Doug Chorney, all of KAP’s commodity group chairs and senior provincial government officials after some of the worst flooding in 2014.
- All of the budget lockups.
“Budget day is my favourite,” Battershill said.
Battershill has some advice for his replacement: “Spend as much time as possible listening to your members.”