Ensuring farmers’ voices are heard in developing environmental policy a priority for new KAP president

The new president of Manitoba’s general farm organization says advocating for farmers when it comes to policies around sustainability and the environment is at the top of her to-do list as she steps into the role.

Jill Verwey was elected president of Keystone Agricultural Producers at KAP’s annual general meeting last month.

As she explains in the interview below, she farms with her husband and his three brothers, running a fourth-generation grain, dairy, and beef operation at Portage la Prairie, Man. She also served as one of KAP’s vice-presidents under her predecessor Bill Campbell for the past four years, so she’s familiar with the issues that are top-of-mind for KAP’s farmer members.

“Certainly, a lot of the regulations and and buzzwords around sustainability and environment are first and foremost in everyone’s discussions. And so going forward, [I plan on] advocating in that area, making sure that the farmers’ voice is being heard when they’re developing and imposing some of these regulations, how that affects farmers, and to make sure that our voices heard,” she says.

“There’s a lot of companies out there that we as suppliers are supplying and they’re looking to farmers for part of their solution because their customers and shareholders are looking for that. So it’s important for us to be part of that discussion. And firstly be acknowledged for what we’re doing currently. We’re doing a great job right now, but we want to be acknowledged for that good job that we’re doing, and be part of the solution going forward,” she continues.

Verwey spoke with RealAgriculture at the CropConnect Conference in Winnipeg last week about her priorities as she takes the reins at KAP, discussing a wide range of issues and topics including:

  • Advocating for farmers on environmental policy;
  • Key messages KAP and other members of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture will be taking to Ottawa in early March as they meet with MPs and Senators in conjunction with CFA’s annual meeting;
  • The new five-year Sustainable Canadian Agriculture Partnership (SCAP) — where it’s at, and what might be in it, with the current federal-provincial ag policy agreement expiring at the end of March;
  • KAP’s renewed effort to efficiently collect check-offs under provincial legislation from the ’80s;
  • Farmer mental health and how the ’23 growing season is shaping up.

Related: Verwey elected KAP president, as Campbell reflects on past four years