Leading Manitoba’s general farm organization is, and isn’t, like farming.
A farmer’s work is never done. It’s the same for the president of the Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP). But the deeper one digs into farm policy, the more complex it gets, Bill Campbell said in an interview Feb. 6 following KAP’s 35th annual meeting in Winnipeg.
“As a farmer if you have issues or problems you solve them and then move on and deal with the next and you have that sense of accomplishment,” said Campbell, who was acclaimed KAP president at KAP’s annual meeting — a role he unexpectedly was appointed to July 31, 2018 after then president Dan Mazier resigned to seek the Conservative Party of Canada nomination for MP in the constituency of Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa.
With six months on the job, Campbell, who raises purebred Limousin cattle and crops on a 2,640-acre farm near Minto, said he doesn’t expect his approach will change.
“I’m passionate about what I do so how can you run half-throttle?” he said. “As soon as I breed my cattle they are going to calve again. You just can’t put it on hold. And as soon as I put the seed in the ground I am committed, I’m in it.”
Campbell said he’ll have to learn how to delegate more as he tries to balance KAP duties with his farm and family responsibilities.
It’s a 2-1/2-hours commute from his farm to the edge of Winnipeg and then more time to get to KAP’s downtown office, he said.
“It eats up half a day,” Campbell said.
Filling KAP’s vacant general manager position will help. Former general manager James Battershill resigned at year-end to pursue a business opportunity.
A human resources company is working to fill the position. A shortlist of candidates has been picked and interviews for the job are underway.
KAP is working on a long list of issues to help Manitoba farmers, Campbell said in his address to KAP delegates Feb. 5, including unfair education taxes on farmland, climate change, the federal carbon tax, proposed new seed royalties, drainage and the very future of farming.
To get more young farmers on the land requires “radical thinking,” he said.
“Try to find some way for them (young people) to be farmers in our communities,” Campbell said in the interview. “We can’t have 25,000-acre farms all over. It affects our communities, our hospitals, our rinks, our education systems. They will just continue to erode. That’s my personal view on that aspect of it. We could have one farmer farming it all I guess, but is that beneficial? What can we do to ensure we have a healthy infrastructure?”
KAP delegates also acclaimed two vice-presidents — incumbent Jill Verwey and newcomer Mitch Janssens.
Verwey runs a multi-generational mixed farm with her husband and children near Portage la Prairie, including 6,000 acres of grains and oilseeds, a Charolais beef herd and a dairy operation.
A graduate of the University of Manitoba’s agriculture diploma course, Verwey has a major in livestock and a focus on farm management.
Janssens grows crops near Boissevain with his wife and four daughters. He has served as KAP’s District 1 chair and sat on KAP’s board of directors and served on various KAP committees, including ‘Grain, Oilseeds and Pulses.’
Raised on a farm near Deloraine, Janssens took over his grandfather’s farm, he wrote in an email. Janssens wrote for many years he worked with his grandfather growing a 640-acre farm into 4,800 acres.
“None of which would have been possible without the help of some of the great people we have had who worked either for us or with us along that journey,” Janssens wrote.
Janssens took over the vice-president position vacated by Justin Jenner, who co-owns and operates a 4,500-acre grain and cattle farm near Minnedosa.