The National Future Farmers Network wrapped up its first meeting earlier this week, with 45 participants from throughout Canada representing various types of farming. Observers from farming organizations and the federal and provincial governments also attended.
“The diverse experience of participants today allowed us to address several issues which concern these young farmers on an everyday basis," says Minister of State (Agriculture) Jean-Pierre 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."
“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," says Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "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 innovative 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 far and wide across Canada. Everyone will then be aware of the innovative and promising solutions discovered by young and beginning farmers, in order to further energize and modernize the sector.
“This national network is a great initiative to renew -- a first step that the Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec hopes will result in a longer-term approach and real action with regard to agricultural sustainability in Canada,” says 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,” says Leona Dargis, 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.”
“We are pleased by the content and direction in which Minister Blackburn has focussed discussions on young farmer policy,” said Ian Richardson, Canadian Young Farmer Forum President. “We look forward to continuing that dialogue in the immediate future."
This network allowed for constructive discussions on a variety of subjects that are of importance to future farmers, such as access to capital, farm transfers, skills development, information about 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.
For more information on young farmers and the National Future Farmers Network, please visit www.agr.gc.ca/youngfarmers.