Farm advocate, writer Paul Beingessner, 55

UPDATED, June 29 — Paul Beingessner, a well-known writer and advocate on Prairie farming issues, died Thursday afternoon in an apparent machinery entanglement on his southern Saskatchewan farm.

Beingessner, 55, had been making repairs to a haybine on his farm at Truax, about 80 km southwest of Regina, and was pulled into the equipment and died, RCMP at Milestone, Sask. said Friday.

Milestone and Avonlea RCMP, who responded along with an ambulance from nearby Pangman, said they would continue their investigation. An autopsy is to be done in Regina to determine the specific cause of death, RCMP said.

Beingessner, who had a degree in psychology from the University of Regina, was a social worker before returning to farming, growing crops on about 2,000 acres and also raising cattle.

In 1991, he became general manager of Southern Rails Co-operative, a shortline that’s owned by about 160 farmer members and connects Truax and other communities to both CN and CPR track.

He also became a well-known columnist, whose work appeared in community newspapers across the three Prairie provinces and regularly in the Manitoba Co-operator and Grainews.

“Paul’s unique and thoughtful perspective on agricultural issues will be sorely missed,” Co-operator editor Laura Rance said Friday. “His was a voice that resonated with many farmers across the Prairies.”

“Paul had the unique ability to look at events around the world and in the farming industry and then reveal his thoughts with courage and conviction in both spoken and written word,” retired Grainews editor Andy Sirski said Friday.

“While he was too ‘left’ for some, Paul attracted readers from a wide range of philosophies and background. Paul will be missed.”

National Farmers Union president Stewart Wells, in a statement Friday, said Beingessner’s writings “cut through the issues and got to the heart of the matter, they spoke directly to the families who work to make a living from the land, and his words spoke directly to decision-makers.

“And Paul’s words were matched and amplified by his actions. He was a builder, a contributor, a person who devoted much of his life to making rural Canada a better place,” said Wells, who farms at Swift Current, Sask. “Paul was genuine, humble, principled, and first to lend a hand to build alternatives and solutions.”

In late 1996, Beingessner left Southern Rails for a new post with the province’s highways and transportation department, in its shortline advisory unit. In 1999, he put out his shingle as a private consultant on grain transportation and ag policy.

A vocal supporter of the Canadian Wheat Board’s single marketing desk for Prairie wheat and barley, Beingessner also ran for election to the CWB’s board of directors, losing in 2008 on the third count of preferential ballots to pro-single-desk incumbent Rod Flaman in south-central Saskatchewan’s District 8.

“With today’s volatile commodity markets, the CWB is more important than ever,” Beingessner wrote at the time. “This is not the time to be throwing farmers’ futures to the whims of commodity speculators.”

Beingessner’s final column will appear in the July 2 edition of the Co-operator.

UPDATE, June 29: A funeral mass for Paul Beingessner will be held Thursday, July 2 at 1 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church at Claybank, with internment to follow at the Truax Cemetery. Claybank is about 55 km south of Moose Jaw. In lieu of flowers, donations in Beingessner’s memory can be made to Development and Peace or Amnesty International.


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