Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan

Waldeck - April 23, 2001 - by: Joyce Neufeld


The recent release of the Provincial budget had the Agriculture Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) front and centre as a spokesperson for Saskatchewan farmers. Just how did APAS become my spokesperson? First off, all RM Councils appointed a delegate to represent them at the information meeting. These appointed persons of the participating RM's, then appoint/elected directors in each of six divisions in Saskatchewan. If I am correct, it was these directors who appointed/elected the chairman (Keep the structure of the Saskatchewan Wheat 'Pool' firmly in mind).




To my knowledge, none of the directors ever held a meeting of their RATEPAYERS to discuss these appointments or policies they would promote. Only after ratepayer outrage was heard, did some RM's consent to a vote. Others arbitrarily made the decision for their taxpayers.




How does this stack up against other farm organizations? Manitoba's Keystone Agriculture Producers (KAP) is funded by a check-off on grains. This check-off however is refundable (a nightmare to get back, but none-the-less-refundable). KAP has 12 districts. Their directors and policies are developed at district meetings by the general membership.




Alberta's Wild Rose Agriculture Producers (WRAP) is a voluntary membership organization. WRAP has nine board members elected by the general membership. Their policies are also developed by the general membership. Their Executive is then elected by the directors.




The National Farmers Union (NFU) is a National organization. It is a direct farmer-membership and participation organization. Farmers create the policy at the local, district, provincial and national level. It has a voluntary, farm family membership and has a Women's President and Youth Presidents who sit on the National Executive along with the National President, to insure it remains a farm family organization. These officials are all elected at the National Convention.




APAS, on the other hand does not have farmers as members, but rather the Rural Municipalities are the members. Individual farmers, while forced to fund the organization cannot develop policy, cannot revoke their funding, nor can they even channel their ten cents per acre/general revenue tax monies towards the farm organization they feel best represents them. Since APAS's funding is based on ACRES, rather than individual farmers, policy is not geared towards keeping the maximum number of farmers on the land.




To be fair, in a March 21, 2001, Leader Post, Letter to Editor column, Ms Christine Whitaker, A councilor for the RM of South Qu'Appelle states


"Membership in APAS is not compulsory. It is not even open to individual producers. Membership is open only to rural municipalities, at a fee of 10 cents per acre of agricultural land within their jurisdiction. Currently, approximately one-third of the RMs in the province have either paid, or pledged to pay, into the organization. Some have taken the fee out of general tax revenue; others have imposed the 10-cents-per-acre levy on individual farmers".


Of course, we farmers are so naive as to believe the imposed 10 cents-per-acre levy or the general tax revenue does not come out of our pockets!!!


Joyce Neufeld
Waldeck, Sask