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Agricultural Service Board holds first meeting

LAWRENCE GLEASON – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR

Agricultural Service Board

The MD of Willow Creek Agricultural Service Board, from left: deputy chairman Josh Fankhauser, Jordie Waters, Glen Alm, Ian Sundquist, Jan Walker, Evan Berger and John Van Driesten.

The new Agricultural Service Board format was put in place last week.
Gone are the automatic seven elected MD of Willow Creek councillors sitting as the board before their council meeting.
Now four councillors serve with three members at large.
Coun. Ian Sundquist was re-elected chairman and the vice-chairman is Josh Fankhauser of Lamb Farms east of Claresholm, where his family has been since 1904.
Auctioneer Jordie Waters, from the Nanton area, now represents the north, while the southern end of the municipal district is represented by Jan Walker, whose quarter-section is near Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.
Walker worked for 30 years with Alberta Health as an audio technician, and is now retired. Her late husband was an irrigation specialist.
Walker came to know agricultural fieldman Carla Preachuk after calling her to take a look at some weeds she hadn’t seen before. They got along, and when the MD of Willow Creek advertised for new ASB members Walker threw her hat into the ring.
“It was good,” Walker said of her first agricultural service board meeting. “I think it’s going to be a steep learning curve.”
Walker is no stranger to advisory committees. She started out on an advisory committee on the Old Man River dam.
“We gave feedback to the province on mitigation, on wildlife and fisheries management,” Walker said.
Walker is on the Fort Macleod Library Board and has served in the past on the Fort Macleod recreation board.
On her place Walker had run about 25 cow calf pairs, which she has since downsized.
“I don’t have that many anymore, and I lease them out in the winter to my neighbours.”
Walker also raises broiler chickens for family and friends.
Walker is pleased the agricultural service board is taken seriously.
“It looks like the ASB has major input into policy,” Walker said. “I think they are looking for new ideas. I’m kind of representing women in agriculture and small producers. I think there is a place people in agriculture who sell into a niche market.”
Josh Fankhauser cut his teeth on committee work with the now-defunct Alberta Winter Wheat Producers Commission at the time it was merged with all wheat producing groups in the province to form the Alberta Wheat Commission.
That work took him to meetings in Lethbridge and Red Deer.
“After that was done I was out of a job, but that’s okay,” said Fankhauser, who has a varied agriculture background, with experience in dairy, chickens, and having worked on a feedlot.
Fankhauser describes himself as the “crops guy” on the family farm which is also worked by family he describes as “five old guys my dad’s generation.”
After his first agricultural service board meeting, Fankhauser said, “I don’t even know all of what they do. I’ll figure it out. The MD councillors are busy, wearing a lot of hats, so we’ll be useful on this board.”
Jordie Waters begged off an interview as he was sorting cows and said he’d be in a truck all the next day feeding cattle and he could do a phone interview then. But a few calls through the day only got his recorded voice.
Waters is an auctioneer who ranches near Nanton. His work takes him to auction houses and sales event in a wide area. He represents the northern end of the municipal district as an agricultural service board member.
The agricultural service board meets once each month, on Wednesdays, the same day as a regularly scheduled council meeting. Look to the MD of Willow Creek Web site for times if you wish to sit in on a meeting in the public gallery.

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