Posted February 12, 2018

(Winnipeg, MB) – There will be a number of new faces on the Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) board as four new directors were installed at MBP’s Annual General Meeting, Feb. 8-9 in Brandon.

The new directors were among the many highlights at the 39th AGM, which also saw strong attendance, a lively resolutions debate, engaging and informative speakers and the unveiling of The Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA) winners for Manitoba.

The new board was ratified during the business portion of the meeting Feb. 8. The new directors are: Robert Kerda, District 4; Mike Duguid, District 10; Kris Kristjanson, District 12 and Jade Delaurier, District 14. They join incumbent directors, Gord Adams, District 1, Peter Penner, District 3; Ramona Blyth, District 5; Larry Wegner, District 6; Larry Gerelus, District 7; Tom Teichroeb, District 8; Dianne Riding, District 9; Robert Metner, District 11; and Ben Fox, District 13.

The MBP executive was also selected following a vote by the directors. Fox returns as president while Teichroeb is vice-president. Adams has moved into the second vice-president position while Penner returned as treasurer and Riding as secretary.

Twenty-six resolutions were also debated and voted upon Feb. 8. Among the notable resolutions to be carried was one calling for MBP to lobby the provincial government to implement mandatory livestock inspection in Manitoba.

“There were some (resolutions) that passed (during the resolutions debate) and some things that we are working on that are going to be changing the face of the Manitoba beef industry for years to come,” Fox said during his closing remarks at the AGM. “That is something this board takes very seriously and is something that we will work and strive to make sure we have the most beneficial outcomes for all of our membership.”

The announcement of the TESA winners was made during the annual President’s Banquet, which included an entertaining speech from Dauphin-Neepawa-Swan River MP Robert Sopuck. Capturing the coveted award is Brian, Sonja, Thomas and Kristelle Harper of Circle H Farms near Brandon.

The Harpers have been farming just outside of Brandon since 1990. Their 500-acre, 80 head purebred cow/calf operation consists of three breeds known and designed for production on grass/forage only – Lincoln Red, North Devon and Shaver Beefblend.  The Harpers’ cattle program is focused on breeding, developing and marketing forage-only breeding stock to commercial producers.

In their application it was noted that Circle H Farms is situated on light soils, which can present challenges such as soil erosion and vulnerability during drought. The Harpers use strategies to deal with that, including planting perennial forage and perennial crops. They have also planted more than 5,000 trees. They have also installed off-site watering systems, dug wells to feed water lines, and use a solar powered winter water system.

The Harpers have also carefully managed their grazing practices over the year.  After starting with rotational grazing they moved to high stock density management or adaptive multi-paddock grazing. This is a system using a short graze of a few hours to one day on an area, followed by a long rest period. As part of this approach, the Harpers participated in a project funded through the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The project aimed to showcase management practices that improve profitability and environmental sustainability.

This system has generated positive results for the Harpers. From 2014-2017 beef production increased by 9,400 pounds off the same 130 acres. Zero inputs were used, just animal impact and time management. As the Harpers note, regenerating soils pays dividends and creates a healthy ecosystem. In 2017 Circle H Farms was selected to be part of the Canadian National Carbon Sequestration study, a multi-year on farm/ranch study that will compare high stock density grazing management compared to conventional pasture management.

As the Harpers note, “healthy soil produces nutrient dense foods and having nutrient dense food promotes healthier people.”

General Manager Brian Lemon said MBP is thankful to the many speakers and sponsors who make the AGM possible.

“We also thank our members who made the trip to Brandon and took part in the AGM. We’ve said it many times in the past and it remains true as ever – this is their organization and the AGM is their opportunity to have a say in the direction of MBP and the focus of the work we do on their behalf. We were pleased to see spirited, yet respectful debate on the many resolutions which will direct our lobbying efforts over the next year.”