The story of Manitoba Flax Growers Association
Manitoba Flax Growers Association (MFGA) grew out of Flax Growers Western Canada (FGWC) which was established by Garvin Hanley and Bill Farley of Saskatchewan in the early 1970’s. Initially there was one member from Manitoba and one from Alberta. The Manitoba member was Garnet Kyle of Dominion City. In 1980 he passed the position to Garvin Kabernick of Sanford, Manitoba who persuaded Gary Karlowsky of Brunkild, Manitoba to join him in establishing MFGA.
Annual meetings were held around Manitoba and a voluntary fee of $60 was collected from farmers for operating expenses. Over the years, several Board Members were added and elections were held annually. Kabernick and Karlowsky represented MFGA as Board Members of FGWC and subsequently as Board Members of the Flax Council of Canada (FCC) which was established through the efforts of FGWC.
In 1996 the Saskatchewan Members of FGWC formed the Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission (SFDC) and were granted the right to receive mandatory, refundable upon request, check-off funding from flax sales by the Saskatchewan Government. Within a few years, FGWC ceased to exist.
By 1999, with financial assistance from SFDC, FCC and a Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council (MRAC) grant, MFGA was incorporated and began the process of lobbying the Manitoba Government to allow the organization to collect a mandatory, refundable upon request, check-off on flax sales to fund MFGA for the purpose of supporting much needed agronomic research work with flax. The process turned out to be challenging and much more difficult than SFDC had experienced.
Perseverance paid off and after several referendums, finally in 2008, flax producers gave MFGA a favourable vote of 62% to convince the Manitoba Government Agricultural Producers’ Organization Certification Agency to grant MFGA the right to collect a mandatory, returnable upon request, check-off fee on flax sales in Manitoba. Dana Moroz of Oak Bluff became the first Executive Secretary for MFGA.
Subsequently, MFGA began the task of providing funding for flax related research projects.
After 32 years, Kabernick and Karlowsky retired in 2012. Other Board Members who served short terms were:
- Bob Wiens * Domain, MB
- Art Enns * Morris, MB
- Bob Bunkowsky * Rosenort, MB
- Bill Toews * Kane, MB
- Don Zeghers * Holland, MB
- Robert Hienaman * Brunkild, MB
- Glenn Pizzey * Angusville, MB