That’s Bill Campbell’s message to his fellow Manitoba farmers.
Campbell, who grows crops and cattle at his farm near Minto, was acclaimed president of the Keystone Agricultural Producers’ (KAP) 37th annual meeting held online for the first time Jan. 26 to avoid spreading COVID-19 pandemic.
He’s held the position since midway through 2018 when he moved up from being one of KAP’s two vice presidents after president Dan Mazier resigned to go into federal politics.
Campbell’s acclamation marks the start of his third, one year term.
KAP limits presidents to serving four terms.
“I am extremely passionate and positively advocating for agriculture in Manitoba,” Campbell said after being acclaimed. “It is a role that I do not take lightly. It’s a great responsibility and it is quite an honour.”
In an interview later he said by working together farmers can achieve more.
“I encourage everybody to get involved in some fashion or form and be aware…,” Campbell said. “There are a lot of things that have affected my farm and my family and my community over the years, other than my production management skills.
“So get involved. Get engaged. We will not change anything unless we have people engaged. I know it will not always be unanimous but as a group we are stronger. And we can make changes if we come together and speak with a unified voice.”
Farmers are under a lot of pressure and scrutiny, he said
“You should be concerned about that,” Campbell said. “You should be involved in the process so you have the ability to do what you want to do.”
Incumbent KAP vice-presidents Jill Verwey and Jake Ayre were acclaimed too.
Verwey, a part of a three-generation family mixed farm near Portage la Prairie, has been a KAP vice-president since 2018.
Ayre, 23, farms at Minto and became a KAP vice-president in 2020.
Although KAP has had several online advisory council meetings, this year’s online annual meeting was a first. Despite a few initial delays KAP general manager Patty Rosher thought the meeting went well.
A total of 182 people, including 87 KAP delegates, were registered for the event, Rosher said in an interview Jan. 27.
Sixty-eight KAP delegates attended last year’s in-person annual meeting.
Annual meetings are important social events where the chatter in the hallways is sometimes as important as in the meeting rooms. But some KAP members have said they’d like the option to attend future annual meetings ‘virtually,’ even after the COVID pandemic ends and large gathers are allowed again, Rosher said. That could result in future KAP meetings being a hybrid of online and in person, she said.