Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) is putting the finishing touches to a new strategic plan.
“We really want to cement KAP as the farm policy leader,” Patty Rosher, KAP’s general manager told its online district meeting Nov. 27. “We want to bring the policy discourse up a notch. We need to think about the long-term financial stability (of KAP). We want to work on our public trust initiatives, and then of course, improve KAP members’ satisfaction and engagement.”
KAP’s board was to meet this week to go over the plan, which will be presented to KAP members at their annual meeting Jan. 26, 2021.
Work on the plan was done last winter, Rosher said.
Why it matters: KAP’s credibility comes from its strong democratic connection to grassroots farmers and well-researched approach to policy development and advocacy.
Rosher is proposing KAP modernize its model, including adding two new standing committees to the nine that already exist.
A new ‘grassroots committee’ would look at KAP’s annual membership fee of $262.50 ($250 + GST) as well as ways to encourage even more grassroots participation.
The other proposed committee would focus on research and innovation.
KAP is considering reducing its number of districts. It has 12 across agro-Manitoba — the same number as when the organization was founded in 1984 when there were double the number of farmers compared to today.
KAP rose from the ashes of the Manitoba Farm Bureau — a federation of farm commodity groups, Manitoba Pool Elevators and United Grain Growers.
The bureau self-destructed when members couldn’t agree on how the loss of a federal subsidy to compensate for the loss of the historic statutory Crowsnest Freight Rate, which benefited Prairie grain farmers, should be handled.
The ‘Crow’ died Jan. 1, 1984, when the Western Grain Transportation Act took effect.
“Sometimes it can be challenging to get engagement amongst all of those 12 districts, which is something of course we will always be working to improve,” Rosher said. “But maybe we need to think about consolidating some districts.”
Rosher also said KAP’s website should change to make it more interactive for members.
Starbuck farmer Reg Dyck suggested online outreach with meeting tools such as Zoom could help KAP better connect with its widespread membership.
Dyck, who is also an instructor in the agriculture diploma program at the University of Manitoba said smaller, specialized farms are on the rise.
“I think we need to be aware that we (KAP) have a big tent and we allow everybody in and encourage everybody in because I think we’re very geared to very large-scale-production agriculture, which is really suited and works well, but I would also encourage that we make room for the smaller niche farms that are starting up out there,” he said.
Rosher agreed, adding she was drafting an invitation to Direct Farm Manitoba, which represents many small farms, to join KAP as a group member.
KAP policy manager Alanna Gray said one of KAP’s strengths is farm policy-making, which comes through resolutions submitted by members.
Because KAP members meet four times a year — three advisory councils and an annual meeting — the organization is able to react to issues faster than others, she said.
KAP has a reputation for proposing “evidence-based” farm policy, Gray added.
“A resolution is the first piece of evidence that there is an issue,” she said. “We don’t have resolutions unless you guys have something you want us to be working on. So it really is the basis of the evidence-based work that we do.
“What I want kind of taken away from this session today is that your opinions are important. It is because of the information that you send us and the resolutions that you bring forward that KAP is a credible organization and we can continue to do our work.
“Everybody wants to hear what farmer-producers are up to and what your thoughts are on regulations and legislation. So it’s really important that we know what your thoughts are and the resolution process is one way we can do that.”
KAP’s current standing committees and group members
Standing committees and chairs:
- Workplace and employment: George Graham
- Transportation: Kevin Stott
- Rural policy: Jill Verwey
- Environment and land use: Neil Galbraith
- Taxation: Chuck Fossay
- Business risk management: Justin Jenner
- Young farmers: Jake Ayre
- Grains and oilseeds: Mitch Janssens
- Livestock: Jill Verwey
- Manitoba Bison Association
- Manitoba Canola Growers Association
- Manitoba Chicken Producers
- Manitoba Crop Alliance
- Dairy Farmers of Manitoba
- Manitoba Egg Farmers
- Manitoba Forage Seed Association
- Keystone Potato Producers Association
- Loveday Mushroom Farms Ltd.
- Manitoba Bee Keepers Association
- Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association
- Manitoba Oat Growers Association
- Prairie Fruit
- Manitoba Pork
- Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers
- Manitoba Seed Growers Association
- Manitoba Sheep Association
- Manitoba Turkey Producers
- Vegetable Growers Association of Manitoba
- Co-op Hail