Manitoba’s KAP president quits unexpectedly

Manitoba’s general farm organization is looking for a new president after Ian Wishart resigned from the position.

A meeting of Keystone Agricultural Producers’ (KAP) general council in Portage la Prairie sat in stunned silence Thursday as Wishart said he was stepping down, effective immediately.

“With considerable regret, I offer my resignation and my apologies. I hate to leave things partly done,” he told the group.

The news came unexpectedly to KAP council, although Wishart had informed executive members of his decision earlier in the week.

Wishart, who farms near Portage la Prairie, gave no reason for his resignation but later said he would make an announcement following Manitoba’s municipal elections on Oct. 27.

Sources now speculate Wishart may take a run at provincial politics for the Progressive Conservative party in the Portage la Prairie constituency, where Tory incumbent David Faurschou announced last month he would not run again.

Rob Brunel, one of KAP’s two vice-presidents, will serve as acting president until the KAP annual general meeting, to be held Jan. 26-28.

Brunel, a grain grower at Ste. Rose du Lac in the province’s northwest, told KAP councillors he had “big shoes to fill for the next four months” but had no plans to run for president at the AGM.

Doug Chorney, a grain, forage and vegetable grower at East Selkirk and KAP’s other vice-president, is said to be considering a run.

Wishart was in his third consecutive one-year term as KAP president, after serving four years as vice-president.

Wishart’s tenure is likely to be remembered for his work in developing the Alternate Land Use Service (ALUS) program, an environmental goods and services program that rewards farmers financially for ecologically-sound on-farm management practices.

ALUS, launched as a pilot project in the western Manitoba RM of Blanshard in 2005, has since been seen in other pilot projects in other provinces. The Blanshard program, while judged successful, has not been renewed.

Ron Friesen is a reporter for the Manitoba Co-operator in Winnipeg.

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