KAP (Keystone Agricultural Producers) is a major voice for Manitoba farmers. Members benefit from being part of a large group and therefore gaining access to many supports for their operation; for instance, KAP has support programs for human resources and safety. In addition, KAP members are eligible for insurance and various discounts. However, a key part of the group’s work is to inform, consult, lobby and advise on political issues facing farmers. At the recent meeting members passed 21 resolutions, with the vast majority involving lobbying various levels of government about issues important to farmers. These issues include those focused on labor, land use, the environment and rural development. I asked Jill specifically about her priorities for her work with KAP, and she identified carbon tax, employment, drainage and NAFTA as items that she, and KAP, are concerned about right now.
Farm Femmes are busy people, so I asked a bit more about what compelled Jill to move into her work with KAP in the first place, and she identified several things: 4-H, past volunteer experience and training, past involvement with ag related policy development and a nudge from a former KAP president, neighbor and friend. As we dug a bit deeper into this conversation Jill said “you want to have a voice at the table, in your industry and in your province”. She also identified that “diversity of voice is important”. When I asked her to elaborate Jill said that it is important for women to attend KAP meetings or grower group meetings in order to get diversity of though around any given topic. The strength of the organization depends on the diversity of thought at the table. Eventually, through participating in the work of the organization, leadership teams can, and will, reflect this diversity of voice. This natural process ensures that leadership teams do include women, but not just to fill a quota. The first step for Farm Femmes looking for change, or leadership roles, is to become involved in an organization, gain credibility with the members and then follow the opportunities that arise.
Finally, I asked Jill what advice or lessons learned that she would share with her daughters, or her younger self, and she identified two things:
- Actually listen. Let people finish what they are saying and not be consumed planning your reply.
- Be part of the solution. Remember to compromise and that life is not black and white.
After speaking to Jill I felt energized and excited to be a Farm Femme. We are fortunate to live in a time where girls, and women, can see role models in ag careers and leadership positions. Comment or reply to this post to recognize a Farm Femme who has inspired you. If you know someone who we should feature in an upcoming post email us at Karen@farmfemmes.com or Teresa@farmfemmes.com