This year’s award for Alberta’s Outstanding Young Farmer recognizes not only the farmer, but the branch of the industry he’s chosen for a career.
Geoff Hoar, 34, of Innisfail operates San Emideo Ranch, a training facility with one of Alberta’s largest outdoor riding arenas. He specializes in working cow horses, cutting horses, roping horses, ranch horses, jumping horses and breaking colts. Hoar is a fourth-generation farmer who runs a nontraditional operation. “It’s what I had to do to fit into the family’s operation,” he said. “Horses were my hobby before they were my profession.”
Hoar graduated from the University of Alberta with a degree in agriculture. He began training horses in 1999 at a rented facility between Innisfail and Red Deer. In 2003, he applied for a loan to build a horse training operation that included an indoor arena, barn and complete training facility on an undeveloped quarter. “It was the first time ATB had given money to build a horse training facility,” he said.
His client base includes horse owners from across Western Canada and parts of the United States. “I start horses, train them, finish them and market them,” he said. “My job has allowed me to travel across North America. I think I sell the Western image.”
Hoar uses cattle supplied by a neighbour to train roping horses, cutting horses and ranch horses.
When presented with his trophy at a banquet at the FarmTech conference in Edmonton last month, Hoar was quick to acknowledge the judges and fellow nominees, Jason and Mel Hagel of Swalwell, who operate Hagel Feeders Ltd., a grain farm and 4,500-head feedlot.
Hoar will travel to Ottawa to compete in the national competition in December.
Judges for this year’s competition included Rick Brand, a regional credit specialist with ATB in Red Deer, Dan Mattson of Olds, who has a long history in agriculture and 1995 Outstanding Young Farmer Donna Hamilton, who runs a hay, grain and home baking operation in Olds with her husband Alex.
Nominees are farm operators between the ages of 18 and 39 who derive a minimum of two-thirds of their income from farming. One young farmer is selected from each of the seven regions from across Canada to compete in the national Outstanding Young Farmer competition held annually.
Competitors are nominated by others and are judged based on progress in their agricultural career, environmental stewardship, production history, financial and management practices, and involvement in their communities. As part of the selection process, candidates must create a Powerpoint presentation about their farm, and conduct interviews with the judges.
The 2008 competition had been held at the Calgary Stampede, but this year it took place as part of FarmTech, an innovation and technology conference held in Edmonton the last weekend of January.
The program depends on the participation of its 430 alumni members, and the support of national and provincial sponsors.
Nominations are currently open for 2010 and can be obtained at www.oyfcanada.com