The federal government will be meeting with farmers, agriculture students and academics from across the country in coming weeks to discuss the key challenges facing young farmers and the future of agriculture through roundtable discussions with Minister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture) Jean-Pierre Blackburn.
“I believe Canada’s young and future farmers have a unique perspective on the issues facing the agriculture industry,” said Blackburn in a release. “These dialogues will be valuable in helping to bring their voices to the forefront and ensure their ideas are put into action.”
The roundtables will focus on identifying key issues for young people who want to farm and on charting solutions that will help new and young farmers start their business, capture more opportunities to grow and diversify their businesses.
Meanwhile, the National Farmers Union Youth is set to launch the Campaign for New Farmers later this month at the 40th annual convention of the National Farmers Union (NFU) in Ottawa, Ontario.
The nation-wide campaign is aimed at bringing awareness to the rapid decline in the number of farmers in Canada, particularly of young and beginning farmers.
NFU National Youth vice-president, Kalissa Regier, who farms near Laird, Saskatchewan, said, “This is an issue that has been left on the table far too long. Canada simply can’t afford to lose any more of its farmers.”
Statistics Canada figures show that between 1991 and 2006, Canada lost over 60 per cent of its farmers under the age of 35. In order to reverse this destructive trend, Regier said all levels of society need to be concerned and take action.
The Campaign for New Farmers will combine new farmer training and support programs with sound political education and analysis. The campaign also aims to increase public awareness.
“This is a campaign that truly includes everyone who eats Canadian-grown food and wants to continue to do so in the future. Farmers are the most important food-producing resource we have in this country,” Regier said.