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Keystone Agricultural Producers fonds, 1915-1997

MSS 69, (A.93-92, A.96-32, A.98-29, A.00-31, A-01-34)

42 m of textual records. -- one audio cassette

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. By vote amalgamation was rejected. 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 16 October 1964 a committee was appointed to make a plan for a formal provincial farm organization. On 16 November 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--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, 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 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 MFB offered its best wishes to its successor, a fledgling general farm organization called Keystone Agricultural Producers, and thanked their employees for years of hard work and dedication.

Manitoba's new general farm lobby organization began one year earlier when the MFB 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 MFB 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 new general farm organization and organized a series of 25 meetings throughout the province to consult directly with producers. These meetings took place from 9 January to 20 January 1984, with close to 1400 farmers participating, 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 KAP.

The need for a farm lobby organization to represent agriculture on issues common to all, was overwhelmingly endorsed with almost ninety-seven 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 6 March 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 are elected by the time the meetings are complete on 19 April 1984. At about this time, and also due to the stormy Crow debate, the Saskatchewan Federation of Agriculture collapsed after representing farmers for forty 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 their present form as Wild Rose Agricultural Producers and Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.

By 24 April 1984, the new Manitoba farm organization had 400 paid members. Eight days later, membership exceeded 500 with a reported six to sisteen memberships arriving in the mail daily. The first General Council meeting took place on 15 June 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 sixteen 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 KAP executive met to form a committee to draft a constitution, by-laws and deal with the organization's finances. In late September, KAP General Council met again where the constitution and structure was changed slightly and adopted. For the first time, KAP 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 MFB handed over the reigns to KAP almost one full month later. The MFB then closed shop permanently.

January of the following year, 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 fifty resolutions were discussed, Jack Penner was elected president, Earl Geddes was elected first vice-president, and Cam Henry was elected second vice-president.

KAP 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.

KAP 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.

The material was donated to the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections by the Keystone Agricultural Producers in six separate accessions between 1986 and 2001.

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 KAP and other agricultural organizations and issues.

Title based on contents of the fonds

There are no restrictions on this material

Further accruals are expected

Finding aids available:

MSS 69

A.93-92

A.96-32

A.98-29

A.00-31

A.01-34