*[UPDATED: Aug. 13, 2018] Former Keystone Agricultural Producers vice-president Bill Campbell has moved to the head of the table.
The Minto-area producer has been appointed KAP’s next president, replacing Dan Mazier, who left the organization to pursue politics.
“I’m really enthusiastic about it,” the fourth-generation farmer said. “I’m encouraged. I really, strongly believe in the KAP organization. I’ve always felt that it’s a grassroots organization and people are able to participate and contribute.”
In early July, Mazier announced he hopes to throw his hat in as the Conservative option in the Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa riding next year. He left his post at KAP, a role he had held for the last 3-1/2 years (as well as an additional four years on the group’s executive), to seek the federal Tory nomination in that riding for the 2019 election.
The KAP board met July 31 to discuss Mazier’s replacement, pending elections. They turned to Campbell, who had been serving as vice-president for the prior year and a half and already had a long history on KAP’s executive.
“It’s in KAP’s bylaws that the board of directors appoint a president when the position is left vacant,” communications co-ordinator Val Ominski said. “Bill, and Jill Verwey — our other VP — had a discussion after Dan’s departure, and they decided Bill should be the one to take over the reins until our annual meeting.”
Campbell’s term will bridge the gap between Mazier’s departure and KAP’s normal elections next February, although Campbell said he intends to run for the post when that presidency is put to a vote next year.
“My intention at this time is to do this for more than six months,” he said. “I don’t think that we can achieve some of my goals or ambitions in six months.”
Campbell said there will be no major changes to the organization in the near future, given that shortened time frame. In the short term, the group says it will be focusing on issues like a potential feed and forage shortage, as well as the results of this year’s crop, since fields continue to fight dry and hot conditions. The continuing conversation on carbon tax is still on KAP’s radar, Campbell said, along with upcoming elections at all three levels of government by 2020, continuing discussions on how to match the Barton Report (which hopes to grow Canadian agricultural exports to $75 billion annually by 2025,) an upcoming provincial review of the educational funding model and trade.
“With NAFTA and CETA and the (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for) Trans-Pacific Partnership, we would like to really see some advancement in those so that we can get away from this uncertainty for primary producers,” he said.
Market volatility in the face of ongoing trade spats has been a major concern for Manitoba’s producers, particularly as NAFTA talks drag on in the wake of increasing tensions and tariffs between the U.S. and Canada.
Campbell says he would like to see Canada’s trade portfolio diversified to help minimize such potential shocks.
Livestock producers may also take note that their new KAP president brings in familiarity with their industry. Campbell’s farm includes one of the province’s purebred Limousin herds, as well as about 1,700 to 2,600 acres of annual crops.
Jill Verwey of Portage la Prairie has been instated as KAP’s vice-president pending the February elections. She is joined by Justin Jenner of Minnedosa who takes over the second vice-president position. Verwey and Campbell were both elected as vice-presidents during the 2018 elections earlier this year.
*A previous version of this article indicated Jill Vervey as the sole-vice president of KAP.