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Manitoba producers voice concerns about labour shortage and climate change at KAP AGM

Manitoba producers voice concerns about labour shortage and climate change at KAP AGM

KAP members pass 18 resolutions to address industry gaps 

By Kate Ayers
Staff Writer

Manitoba producers brought forward worries about labour shortages, rural emergency response services and climate change at the Keystone Agricultural Producers annual meeting last week.

Indeed, farmer delegates focused on finding solutions to the industry’s labour shortages, according to a mySteinbach article on Friday.

In 2014, 26,400 jobs went unfilled in Canada’s ag sector, resulting in $1.5 billion in lost revenues, according to a study conducted by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council.

In Manitoba alone, 1,800 ag jobs went unoccupied that year. This gap cost the sector $282 million, which was the highest share of ag sales lost to labour shortages of any province.

KAP should work towards the launch of a designated agricultural trade at an accredited college or university, one resolution proposed. KAP should also collaborate with educational providers to create a farm equipment operator course to train newcomers to the industry, another resolution suggested.

“Both of these resolutions reflect the need for training that will educate prospective workers in both farming and safety,” Dan Mazier, KAP president, said in the article.

“Farming is one of the most dangerous occupations and, while we are desperate for workers, we must ensure they are properly trained.”

Farmers also asked KAP to approach the province about ensuring timely rural access to emergency services.

In addition, the province should develop an effective strategy to address the limited cellphone coverage some producers face, according to the article.

Young producers from the University of Manitoba’s agricultural diploma program also requested support for young farmers to buy land. Specifically, a levy on farmland would contribute to the expansion of the Manitoba Agricultural Service Corporation’s young farmer rebate program, the article said.

KAP should address climate change through partnerships with governments, universities, private industry and farmers, delegates said.

Ralph Eichler, Manitoba’s ag minister, and Jim Carr, the federal natural resources minister, attended the annual meeting.       

The meeting was held Jan. 24 and 25 in Winnipeg, Man and resulted in 18 resolutions responding to gaps identified in the industry.