Last year’s event was eye opening. I witnessed real, everyday farmers affecting change. And I wrote about it here in Grainews. I wrote about the importance of getting involved because over the course of the two-day Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) AGM I saw grown men and women nervously walk up to one of two mics, present resolutions that mean something to them, defend those resolutions and then hope against hope that the voters in the room see the same need for change.
Some of them get shot down. Some got to committee. Some get nibbled on until what’s left is merely a shred not worth pursuing or not strong enough to support itself. Others pass. This is democracy. It’s fantastic.
But it’s also voyeurism. It’s more than just a little interesting to know what gets some people’s blood boiling. And it’s important to hear the passion with which they present their cases. I get into it.
This year’s AGM was different. Rather, I took in this year’s AGM differently.
If there’s been a theme to my writing as of late, it’s relationships. If that bothers you, I apologize. But, it’s a subject that I often think about.
I sat in a different spot, this year. The event takes place at the Delta Hotel in Winnipeg. Seating is broken up by district or commodity group. If I were a traditional KAP delegate, I would snuggle up to my fellow District 3ers. But, I’m not so I found a seat by the Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers sign. I was the second of my clan to arrive, behind my boss.
I took my seat, and panned the crowd (we were sitting near the back of the room). I knew lots of the people there. And I knew them by name. Stranger yet, lots of them knew me by name. A year ago, this was not the case.
This flatters me. It makes me smile and it fills me with fear — the kind of fear people experience when they have something valuable to lose.
During coffee breaks, the next discussion was never more than a few feet away. And intermittently during the sessions, I found myself texting with other farmers, some of whom were in the room.
Days upon days spent ensuring conversations take place in an effortless and meaningful manner is rewarding to me now, because I couldn’t always do it. When I first started working in the ag sector, conversations with people who’d been in the biz for a while were difficult. I didn’t know enough to know what things were worth anchoring a conversation on.
My alarm woke me up at 5:45 a.m. on Day 2 of the AGM. My parking permit was going to expire at 6 a.m., and the machine where I purchased the ticket said it would give me the option of buying additional time through my phone. Wrong. The automated text I received said that this particular lot was not setup to accept mobile payments.
I had to get out of bed and walk a few blocks to buy more time. My truck is too large for the hotel’s parkade.
I went back to bed and slept until a few minutes prior to when sessions where scheduled to begin. I felt rushed and a touch groggy. I would just need a cup of coffee.
In the elevator, I met KAP President Dan Mazier. He’s a great guy, and a guy with whom I enjoy chatting. We chatted all the way down to breakfast where I sat with a table full of University of Manitoba agriculture students, who were there to observe Day 2 of the AGM and present a resolution of their own. My day began and continued with good conversations.
That’s what this year’s KAP AGM was for me. Yes, I saw democracy at work and some fantastic resolutions got passed, but this year I felt I crossed a threshold and was accepted into the ag world.
These are the kinds of grand assumptions I make when you remember my name, a good thing to keep in mind when you’re dealing with people. A firm handshake and acknowledgment that you’ve been remembered goes a long way.
One of these days I will have to start thinking about spring and machinery and the books, but that will have to wait until meeting season subsides. I don’t mind.