Editor’s Take: As an organization, KAP offers farmers their best value

We all know a ‘good deal’ when we see one.

It’s the reason the fast-food industry always asks us if we’d like to upsize our fries and drinks.

It knows a few pennies more in costs, offset by a few nickels more in payments from us, makes us think we’ve got a great deal — even if it might not be the best choice for our health.

Sometimes it’s a bit more tongue in cheek.

There are highway signs all over northwestern Ontario, setting out the penalties for speeding.

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Going 120 in a 90 zone will get you a $95 fine, 130 costs you $220 and 140 will take $295.

A few years ago, a photo famously made the rounds of the internet where someone had taken a can of spray paint, circled the lowest fine, and labelled it “best value!”

While we wouldn’t presume to endorse speeding, we would like to point out a much more socially acceptable best value for your dollar — one that every farmer in Manitoba gets the benefit of.

We speak, of course, of the Keystone Agricultural Producers, your provincial general farm organization.

For $262.50 a year — taxes in — this group has been an unfailing voice of the grassroots farmer in this province since its inception in 1984.

Key to its success is the delegate structure, through the 12 districts throughout the province, and member commodity groups.

It’s through this mechanism that grassroots policy resolutions are made, and brought forward to advisory council meetings three times a year, or the annual meeting, where they are debated and voted on.

If a resolution is passed, it’s then official KAP policy, and the organization’s executive members and staff take action on them.

While most of the issues require others to act for resolution, the general farm organization plays an important role here. They advocate with elected and appointed officials. They make presentations to legislative committees.

They write letters to government officials. They are your public voice, issuing news releases, taking media interviews and drawing attention to your bread-and-butter issues.

That dedication was on display during a recent advisory committee meeting, as our Allan Dawson reports in two stories for our Nov. 5 issue, ‘Grain elevator issues raised at KAP meeting‘ and ‘Manitoba ag-minister Pedersen pans AgriStability reform.’

This time around KAP is asking for action on potentially inaccurate grain moisture meters, advocating for scale readings to be visible from the truck cab, retention of grain samples at the elevator and protocols for cleaning out grain trucks.

That might seem like unimportant stuff to the outside observer, but the truth is, all can have a substantive impact on the bottom line of the farmer.

It’s also important to note that KAP has an enviable track record of non-partisanship, something extremely rare in these hyper-partisan times.

To give you one example of this, it wasn’t so long ago that a former KAP executive member, who had worked very closely on some good policy with the NDP government of the day announced his intention to run for office himself. More than a few were surprised to learn he’d be campaigning under the PC banner, as he’d kept his personal political views very private during his time working for Manitoba farmers.

That’s translated into the ability for the organization to get things done regardless of the party in power, and should be modelled by other organizations that, especially at the national level, seem to have become more partisan in recent years.

Among KAP’s victories include a recent move by the province to begin phasing out education taxes on farmland. That has been a central policy plank for years now for KAP, and it has worked slowly but surely to make the case for the fundamental fairness of changing how education is funded.

The land tax system might have made sense when there was a farmer on every half-section, but today it’s meant fewer and fewer farmers have wound up shouldering too much of the load.

Without KAP advocating on your behalf, it’s doubtful urban Manitoba would have moved to correct this injustice on its own accord.

As Dawson also reported earlier this month, “… based on provincial government figures Manitoba farmland and building owners contributed $64 million of the $850 million in education property taxes collected in 2018-19.

“Averaged over about 10 million cultivated acres there’s about $6.40 an acre in farmland education taxes. But some farmers with higher-value land pay almost $30 an acre. On a 2,000-acre farm, that’s $60,000 a year in education taxes alone.”

Under the promised changes that would be totally eliminated over about a 10-year period, as the funding for education begins to come from the province’s general tax revenue, which is paid for by all taxpayers.

We’re no experts, but that does seem like a pretty good return on a $262.50 investment.

About the author

Editor

Gord Gilmour

Gord Gilmour is Editor of the Manitoba Co-operator.

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