5 questions for: Dan Mazier, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers

Q. Tell us a little about your ag background and how you landed in your current role. A. I was born and raised on a mixed farm consisting of cattle, pigs, chickens and grain. I'm fortunate to have had this experience because it gave me a good fou...


Q. Tell us a little about your ag background and how you landed in your current role. 

A. I was born and raised on a mixed farm consisting of cattle, pigs, chickens and grain. I’m fortunate to have had this experience because it gave me a good foundation for both livestock and crop production practices.
I graduated in the mid-80s from the University of Manitoba with a diploma in agriculture. At that time, farming did not hold the opportunities it does today, so I farmed part-time with my father and brother. I also began a career at Simplot (now Koch Industries) in Brandon, Manitoba, where I remained for 17 years.
I made the leap to being a full-time farmer in 2001, leaving my job in the fertilizer industry. I farm with my brother, and we raised cattle and chickens, and did our own direct marketing from the farm until 2010. Now, we are strictly grain and oilseed producers.
I had always been interested in farm organizations and policy, and when a neighbor called and asked if I would attend a Keystone Agricultural Producers meeting with him, I jumped at the chance, eventually taking a role on KAP’s executive team.
In 2011, my kids were grown enough that I could devote more time to KAP, and I became a vice president. In 2015, I became KAP’s president.

Q. For our readers in the U.S., how do the Keystone Agricultural Producers compare with state farm bureaus and farmers unions?
A. I believe there are many similarities to your farm bureaus. We are a nonprofit and grassroots general farm policy organization, member-funded and member-directed. We lobby for changes that are needed so farmers can remain successful and profitable, and we’re well-respected by our provincial government and stakeholders.
Just as with your farm bureaus, we are a member of an overarching national organization - the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. Its membership includes organizations like ours from across the country, as well as national commodity organizations.

Q. What do farmers and ranchers on the Canadian and northern U.S. prairies have in common besides crops and climate? What are the differences?
A. We’re all concerned about profitability, trade, the impacts of trade and trade decisions, GMO backlash, social license, food safety and labeling.
Traceability is a big issue in Canada, as well. Another topic that I’m sure is common to all farmers in technology development, and adaption on the farm.
I’m not really sure what the differences are - farming is farming. Perhaps, though, through government programming, we have more of a focus on sustainability, although I don’t know what your programs cover.

Q. What’s KAP’s policy focus at the moment, and what do you see on the horizon?
A. Our current focus is on increased government investment in research and innovation programming; government support for young farmers; support for farmers’ efforts to protect the environment; provincial and federal investment in physical and digital infrastructure in rural communities; grain transportation reform that will result in fewer delays and more predictability for grain shippers, thus allowing them to meet foreign contract deadlines.
On the horizon, I would say it would be working with our new provincial government on school tax reform, so that the biggest burden of school taxes does not fall on farmers. We also hope to work with the government on reducing red tape and regulations surrounding farming practices - something that our members have complained about for many years.


Q. What advantages, if any, do Canadian producers have over producers in the U.S. in the current global climate? Are there any disadvantages?
A. One advantage we have is water. It’s tough to manage when we get into an excess situation that causes flooding, but we haven’t had the types of water scarcity challenges that some regions in the U.S. have had in recent years.
A disadvantage we have is the difficulty in attracting private-sector investment for research and development into region-specific crop varieties. This is because investment dollars are so big, and our market is relatively small. A good example of this is our lack of fusarium-resistant varieties of wheat.
Whereas Manitoba has problems with fusarium, the other two western Canadian wheat-producing provinces don’t. Since North Dakota also has fusarium issues, this could be an opportunity for grower groups on both sides of the border to work together.

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Dan Mazier

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