The Manitoba Association of Agricultural Societies (M.A.A.S) was formed in the fall of 1986 to act as an Advisory Board for all 62 agricultural societies within the Province of Manitoba, thus making its members eligible to receive grants under the Federal Fairs and Exhibition program.
In the beginning, the Board consisted of representatives from 9 districts, one representative from the A Category fair and two representatives from the B Category fairs.
These representatives were elected on an annual basis from the membership. The Superintendent provided a liaison between Manitoba Agriculture and the M.A.A.S. Board.
The superintendent administers the ag society act and is an ex officio member on the board.
Later, after some restructuring, agricultural societies were grouped under 7 districts with two representatives from A category societies and 2 representatives from the B category fairs leading to a board of 12 directors. When the Board was established an administrator was contracted to manage any federal grant monies on behalf of the Board.
On October 14, 1992 the Board made a decision to officially incorporate under the Corporations Act of Manitoba. This made it possible for M.A.A.S. to expand their activities and to manage agreements with Federal and Provincial governments.
In 2004 the Manitoba Agricultural Societies Act was updated and the Board evolved from an Advisory Board to an independent Provincial Board for the Manitoba Agricultural Societies. The role between the M.A.A.S. board and Manitoba Agriculture Food & Rural Initiatives (MAFRI), evolved into a partnership. M.A.A.S. and MAFRI share joint roles to:
* promote agriculture, food production and rural living
* provide leadership and support ag societies in remaining vital
* provide educational opportunities to ag societies and
* promote rural development
As an independent, non-governmental, provincial board, one of the roles of M.A.A.S. is to act as a single voice for all agricultural societies in Manitoba (11,000 members), and to represent them at the Provincial and Federal levels. Additionally, they provide an educational forum for the exchange of ideas and programs, hold district meetings, plan the annual conference, introduce new trends, and administer board activities and service agreements.
Part of the support M.A.A.S. gives to Manitoba’s current 59 agricultural societies is the coordination of SOCAN fees assessed at community events throughout the year. This is a national assessment for the use of music at public events and instead of having separate contacts and billing for each B and C class agricultural society in Manitoba, M.A.A.S. has an agreement with SOCAN to consolidate it into one contact and remittance.
The Board also is responsible for promoting agricultural awareness and education. One of their initiatives is the development of the “Ag on the Moove” trailer. Over the last two years, this activity, which is in a self contained trailer for all agricultural societies to use at their events, has been showcased in many communities. M.A.A.S. continues to look at new and innovative educational opportunities and partnerships to enhance agricultural education and awareness in Manitoba.
One of the M.A.A.S. Board’s flagship activities is the Annual Conference which is organized and delivered by the Board of Directors. This conference is an important opportunity for all agricultural societies to meet and network with each other, sharing and learning new ideas which can be incorporated into their community’s activities and events, thus ensuring a vibrant rural lifestyle. They also provide a forum which gives a voice on common issues and concerns, one example being the rewriting of the Manitoba Agricultural Societies Act.
The Board is only as strong as its membership and it is important that each district takes an active interest in encouraging one of their members to sit on the provincial board when an election takes place at the annual conference. The Board is constantly evolving and seeking ways to further enhance and promote agriculture and communicate the importance of agricultural societies in their communities, thus promoting and participating in maintaining Manitoba’s rural landscape. M.A.A.S. plays an important role in representing the 11,000 members across Manitoba on a provincial, national, and international stage.