Keystone Agricultural Producers
The Manitoba Farm Bureau, the predecessor to the Keystone Agricultural Producers, was formed in January 1965, necessitated by years of turmoil between farmers and associations/organizations. This grief resulted from a steady decline in membership participation, a shortage of finances, lack of unity between groups, and constant internal quarrelling. In short, these various independent organizations were not meeting the voluntary and commercial needs of their members.
In the 1930s, two non-commercial farm organizations existed. The Manitoba Co-operative Conference, made up of commercial co-operative institutions, and the United Farmers of Manitoba, including educational institutions. In 1935, a proposal was made for unification, to connect educational and commercial activities, but no action was taken. Thus, they remained detached and uncoordinated.
In September 1938, Manitoba Premier John Bracken had the United Farmers of Manitoba select representatives to join in discussions to form a new organization. From this a sub-committee of five was selected to make recommendations for a new recognized farm organization to include educational and commercial bodies. The name of this organization was to be the Organized Farmers of Manitoba. At a meeting in June 1939, a new organization was formed but given the name Manitoba Federation of Agriculture.
During the 1940s, there was a great deal of discussion regarding the Manitoba Federation of Agriculture's relationships with co-operatives and credit unions. The Manitoba Federation of Agriculture feared loss of support through the formation of a distinct organization. Therefore, a reformation took place in 1945 in which the Manitoba Federation of Agriculture and Co-operation replaced the Manitoba Federation of Agriculture.
In 1947, farm unions rose in popularity throughout western Canada. In Manitoba, the Manitoba Farmers Union played the greatest role. During the late-1940s and early-1950s, battles ensued between these rival organizations on the matter of commercial co-operatives in non-commercial farm organizations. Despite divergent viewpoints, attempts at unification continued. In 1954 and 1955, a negotiating committee was formed to discuss the possibility of amalgamation. A structure was even set up for a proposed new organization which would be called Organized Farmers of Manitoba. At their annual conventions, each side endorsed unity, however, they could never agree on basic issues. In February 1957, a major meeting of 1200 farmers was held to make the decision. Amalgamation was rejected in a vote. The central issue once again was the place of co-operatives in the farmers' union. Meetings continued between 1956 and 1960 but unity remained out of the question.
On October 16, 1964, a committee was appointed to make a plan for a formal provincial farm organization. On November 16, it presented its report and suggested the name be Manitoba Farm Bureau. It proposed the following membership: all commodity groups, commercial co-operatives, Manitoba Women's Institute, Manitoba Federation of Agriculture, Diploma Agricultural Graduates' Association, agricultural societies, municipal associations, livestock breeders' associations, farm management groups and the Manitoba Farmers' Union. The Plan was adapted with minor amendments, although the Manitoba Farmers' Union refused to join.
The goals of the new Manitoba Farm Bureau were multiple and included the following: to be affiliated with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, to seek affiliation with national producer groups such as seed growers, dairymen, livestock organizations, etc., to co-ordinate groups and look for common agricultural policy, and to provide a strong voice to the farmers of Manitoba.
Representation was based on the number of producers in member groups. The greatest representation was by the Manitoba Pool Elevators. It provided 37,000 members and eight representatives. Next were the United Grain Growers and the Manitoba Women's Institute, each with four representatives. Other member groups each had three representatives.
The first President was W.S. Forrester, former President of the Manitoba Beet Growers' Association. Vice-President was G. Franklin of Deloraine, representative of Manitoba Pool Elevators. Second Vice-President was Mrs. D. Buron of Swan River, President of Manitoba Women's Institute.
Problems first to be dealt with included taxation of real property and gasoline, farmers' income position, and unemployment insurance for farm labour.
The stated aims and objectives of the Manitoba Farm Bureau were as follows: to unify the purposes and policies of organized agriculture in Manitoba, to promote the interests of farmers and farmers' organizations and promote common interest through collective action, to formulate and promote provincial, national and international agricultural policies to meet changing economic conditions, to represent farmers before government and authorities, to study and protect interests of membership relating to existing and considered legislation (both provincial and federal), and to promote the social, economic and cultural well-being of rural Manitoba, and develop programs of mutual assistance and self-help.
The initial membership consisted of the following: Canadian Co-operative Implements Ltd., Diploma Agricultural Graduates' Association, Federated Co-operatives Ltd., Hog Producers Association of Manitoba, Manitoba Beet Growers' Association, Manitoba Branch of Canadian Seed Growers, Manitoba Chicken Broiler Industry Association, Manitoba Egg and Pullet Product Association, Manitoba Hatchery Association, Manitoba Pool Elevators, Manitoba Stock Growers Association, Manitoba Turkey Association, Manitoba Women's Institute, United Grain Growers Ltd., Vegetable Growers Association of Manitoba, and Winnipeg District Milk Producers Co-operative Association Ltd.
Groups against joining immediately were Manitoba Stock Growers' Association, Manitoba Dairy and Poultry Co-operatives, and the Manitoba Farmers' Union.
The Manitoba Farm Bureau continued to operate until 1984. In 1984, a new company was formed which took its place, remaining a separate entity. The new company, Keystone Agricultural Producers, took over the assets and liabilities. It also agreed to put the Manitoba Farm Bureau files into the Department of Archives and Special Collections of the University of Manitoba where they would be preserved.
During the third week of October 1984, the Manitoba Farm Bureau (M.F.B.) held its last meeting, approximately two years after members disagreed over how to handle the loss of the Crow Rate. In their last two motions, the M.F.B. offered its best wishes to its successor, a fledgling general farm organization called Keystone Agricultural Producers (K.A.P.), and thanked their employees for years of hard work and dedication.
Manitoba's new general farm lobby organization began one year earlier when the M.F.B. formed an ad hoc Committee on Farm Organization Structure to address serious difficulties brought about by a stormy Crow debate and the subsequent loss of support from Manitoba Pool Elevators in 1982 and United Grain Growers in 1983. The M.F.B. also faced reduced involvement of the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association due to funding problems.
Over the next few months, the Committee, chaired by Bert Hall and Earl Geddes, developed a proposal for a new general farm organization and organized a series of 25 meetings throughout the province to consult directly with producers. These meetings took place from January 9 to January 20, 1984 and close to 1400 farmers participated with 1026 returning questionnaires desinged for the rural meetings. Bert Hall was one of the co-chairs of the Committee on Farm Organization Structure, instrumental in forming K.A.P.
The need for a farm lobby organization to represent agriculture on issues common to all, was overwhelmingly endorsed with almost 97 per cent in favour. The questionnaires also included sections on structure, funding, fee levels, and additional comments. Given a clear mandate from the grassroots level, the Committee on Farm Organization Structure prepared a report and proposal for a new farm organization which was submitted on March 6, 1984.
The ad hoc committee set out to travel the province again in April 1984, as a second series of rural meetings was scheduled to seek support, funding, and delegates for the yet unnamed organization. General Council representatives and twelve delegates at the local level were elected by the time the meetings were complete on April 19, 1984. At about this time, and also due to the stormy Crow debate, the Saskatchewan Federation of Agriculture collapsed after representing farmers for 40 years. The decision was brought about by group members' resistance to contribute funds, the continued withdrawal of members, and the failure of support for a restructuring proposal. Alberta's farm organization, Unifarm, was facing its own difficulties at the time for much the same reasons. They eventually evolved into Wild Rose Agricultural Producers and Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.
By April 24, 1984, the new Manitoba farm organization had 400 paid members. Eight days later, membership exceeded 500 with a reported 6 to 16 memberships arriving in the mail daily. The first General Council meeting took place on June 15, 1984 and by noon the yet unnamed farm organization was no longer unnamed. Out of ten possible choices, delegates decided on Keystone Agricultural Producers. Rather than elect a president and executive, an executive committee was chosen consisting of 16 members (one from each of the twelve districts, and one from each of four commodity group members).
The new group took its first few cautious steps toward autonomy after the meeting as the K.A.P. executive met to form a committee to draft a constitution, by-laws, and deal with the organization's finances. In late September, K.A.P. General Council met again where the constitution and structure was changed slightly and adopted. For the first time, K.A.P. began to seriously discuss policy, passing four resolutions recommended by the executive committee.
Comfortable that their successor was healthy enough to stand alone and there would not be a farm lobby vacuum in the province, the M.F.B. handed over the reigns to K.A.P. almost one full month later. The M.F.B. then closed shop permanently.
January 1985 was a historic month for producers in Manitoba. Keystone Agricultural Producers held its first Annual General Meeting in Winnipeg where funding and membership were the top priorities. During the two day meeting, over 50 resolutions were discussed, Jack Penner was elected President, Earl Geddes was elected first Vice-President, and Cam Henry was elected second Vice-President.
Keystone Agricultural Producers is a democratically controlled farm lobby organization which represents and promotes the interests of agriculture and agricultural producers in Manitoba. It is a grassroots organization wholly run and funded by its members, with all policy set by producers throughout Manitoba.
K.A.P. has standing policy on a variety of issues including Safety Net Programs, Western Grain Marketing, Land and Resource Use, Taxation, Environment and Sustainability, Livestock Manure Management Strategy, Farm Labour, Health and Safety, Affiliations, Farm Inputs and Finance, Transportation, Government Services, Property Rights and Wildlife Resources and Trade.
Policy is set by delegates and directors elected from individual and group members. Close to twenty committees, comprised of members and the President (ex-officio), research a number of issues and report back to the executive and the General Council. Both the elected executive and management are responsible for implementing policy in the best interests of the members.
Its mission is to be Manitoba's most effective, democratic policy voice, while promoting the social, physical and cultural well being of all agricultural producers.
Scope and Content
The first accession of the Keystone Agricultural Producers Collection consists mainly of office files of the Manitoba Farm Bureau which were generated from 1965-1984. Also included are files produced prior to 1965 by the Manitoba Farm Bureau's predecessors.
These files, arranged for the most part in their original chronological order, contain the following: by-laws, reports, submissions, minutes, news releases, and correspondence of the Manitoba Farm Bureau and its eighteen-member organizations. Also included are materials from outside related organizations such as L'Union Catholique des Cultivateurs, National Farmers Union, federations of agriculture of other provinces, etc.
After the proper chronological sequencing up to 1984, there are files which were not included in this manner. They cover other activities which took place during 1979 and 1980.
Significantly, the Manitoba Farm Bureau's early files are not as complete as the later ones. This is due to a basement flood which occurred in the basement of the Manitoba Farm Bureau headquarters which destroyed a number of them.
The five unprocessed accessions of the Keystone Agricultural Producers consist of agricultural publications, files, reports, correspondence, by-laws, minutes, newsletters, press releases, memorandums, financial statements, resolutions, submissions, notices of meetings, mailing lists, press clippings, policies, and pamphlets and brochures regarding K.A.P. and other agricultural organizations and issues.
Collection Reference: MSS 69 (A.93-92, A.96-32, A.98-29, A.00-31, A-01-34)
Inclusive Dates: 1915-1997
Collection Contents: 42 m of textual records and one audio cassette
Access Conditions: None
Finding aids are available for the following: