At the end of the first National Future Farmers Network held in Gatineau Nov. 15 and 16, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture) Jean-Pierre Blackburn announced, the next steps to come.
The network event, the first for young and beginning farmers, involved 45 people who represented every region of Canada and various types of farming, in addition to observers from farming organizations and the federal and provincial governments.
“The diverse experience of participants today allowed us to address several issues which concern these young farmers on an everyday basis,” said Blackburn.
“The discussions that we have held with young farmers were especially productive. Together, we explored the various opportunities offered by this very innovative sector. We have also identified promising ideas to help young farmers face their challenges.,”
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said, “The future of agriculture lies in the hands of young and beginning farmers and we need to find more ways to help them take the reins of the farm business. While this group faces many unique challenges, this network will give us another opportunity to hear first hand about how we can help maintain and grow this important sector.”
Following the network, young and beginning farmers will have the opportunity to carry on with the discussions already held, and to further define the solutions they have identified.
Besides, the presence of observers from farming organizations, as well as the federal and provincial governments, will help spread the information collected during the network across Canada.
“This national network is a great initiative to renew – a first step that the Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec (FRAQ) hopes will result in a longer-term approach and real action with regard to agricultural sustainability in Canada,” said Yohan Perreault, senior vice-president of FRAQ.
“Having this opportunity to participate in the NFFN is comforting. We all recognize and have experienced a diverse range of challenges pertaining to young farmers in our country,” said Leona Dargis, a member of the Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum. “I am appreciative to be able to have an influential voice in creating positive change towards a dynamic future for the Canadian agricultural industry.”
“I am impressed by the passion and sense of leadership which drive young farmers, as well as their positive outlook on their careers. I am convinced that our discussions today will help us continue move forward, in order to help young farmers have a prosperous future,” concluded Blackburn. “We will also continue to involve them closely in consultations to shape programs and policies, specifically the next agriculture policy. We intend to continue the dialogue, not only with those present at the network, but also with farming organizations and young and beginning farmers from across the country.”
The event allowed for discussions on a variety of subjects that are of importance to future farmers, such as access to capital, farm transfers, skills development, information about government programs, access to agricultural land, profitability of the sector, and the necessity to promote a positive image of agriculture. It found that young farmers share the same concerns no matter where they come from in the country.
The Minister invited the participants and observers to work together and put into action the ideas and solutions that were put on the table by the young farmers.
For more information on young farmers and the National Future Farmers Network, visit www.agr.gc.ca/youngfarmers.