For the first time in the group's history, the Keystone Agriculture Producers had an election for president, as well as placing woman as president for the first time, and it happened at the group's annual meeting Tuesday.
The two vice presidents, Jill Verwey of Portage la Prairie and Jake Ayre of Minto, had their names on the ballot to replace outgoing President Bill Campbell. In the end, Verwey came out on top.
KAP is a non-profit organization founded in 1984 and has approximately 4,600 farmer members who produce a variety of agricultural products. KAP is also supported by 20 commodity group members.
"Certainly, being a part of the board and the executive for the past five years gives me the skills I feel are necessary to be president and to be the voice of Manitoba producers."
Verwey points to volatility with climate, trade and markets as a key challenge moving forward.
"There are so many things that play a part in what's ahead. Of course, the continuance of policies we already have in place. Looking at our strategic plan, I'm excited about doing that in the next month or so. I'm looking forward to sitting down with our board and based on our vision of sustainability and profitability for all producers how do we get to that with advocating programming and engaging our producers," said Verwey.
KAP promotes the interest of Manitoba producers through advocacy, collaboration, communications and education. This includes meetings with provincial and federal decision-makers, participation in consultations, working groups with partners, and providing communications material and awareness campaigns.
"I think a lot of producers feel that it's out of their reach regarding the impact they can have. That seems to be the mentality of the general public. I think we have to change how we engage producers. We have to go where they live and attend their meetings rather than expecting people to come out to an advisory council meeting."
"Everything has its place, but I think we have to look at berry opportunity to engage," said KAP President Jill Verwey.