Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) wants Manitoba Agriculture’s weed specialist position quickly filled.
Jeanette Gaultier, who held the job for the last two years, left the position Sept. 20 to become BASF’s new senior technical service specialist for Manitoba starting Sept. 25.
Previously Gaultier, who has a PhD in pesticides and soil science, was Manitoba Agriculture’s pesticide specialist working on minor use pesticide regulations and related topics.
“In today’s environment the weed spectrum is changing,” KAP president Dan Mazier said in an interview Sept. 21. “There are weeds we are seeing that are resistant to our long-term arsenal and then there are the new weeds that are coming in. You can never have too much outreach on something like this.”
The Manitoba government was vague about filling the weed specialist position when asked about it Sept. 21. In an emailed response an official said: “Manitoba Agriculture is currently utilizing expertise from across the department to support the role of weed specialist while we look at options for filling the position.”
The province, which is looking for ways to cut its $764-million budget deficit, had not responded by press time to a request for clarification.
However, industry observers said they expect the position to be filled given weed management is core to crop production.
One industry official also noted the new Progressive Conservative government is filling Manitoba Agriculture vacancies faster than the previous administration, including recently filling the cereals specialist position.
“I wasn’t looking to leave (Manitoba Agriculture), but a great opportunity presented itself and it’s a good fit for my family where we’re at right now,” Gaultier said in an interview on her last day as weed specialist. “But I am not leaving because I dislike my job. The weed specialist, the pesticide specialist positions, have been great jobs. It sounds cliché but I’ve worked with so many great people, including my colleagues here at Manitoba Agriculture. If anyone is interested in the position, keep their eye out because it’s a great place to work.”
Gaultier, who has children and lives in rural Manitoba, said her new job is home based, giving her more flexibility.
“I’ve never been actually able to put the kids on the bus or get them off the bus,” she said. “They’ve always gone to (a relative’s) place.”
Mazier compared weed management to fire prevention — prevention is best.
“It’s usually too late by the time the fire department gets there,” he said.
With water entering Manitoba from the south and west, and with Manitoba on the flight path of migratory birds from the south, the province is susceptible to new weeds, Mazier said.
“Something that’s going on in North Dakota or Minnesota can impact Manitoba’s agriculture,” he said
“That’s why we need those positions.”