Some of the brightest young minds in Canadian farming will be meeting in Fredericton, N.B., in early December for the 39th annual awards program of Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers (COYF).
Seven farm couples, selected as regional winners from across the country earlier this year, will be vying for recognition of the national title, as they are joined by 150 OYF alumni and guests from Dec. 4 to 8 at the Delta Hotel in Fredericton, overlooking the St. John River.
As usual, there is a very diversified crop of farm enterprises among the regional finalists.
From Vancouver Island, B.C. representatives James and Cammy Lockwood of Cobble Hill produce eggs from about 5,000 laying hens and also have a natural-grown market garden operation.
Alberta nominees Dallas Vert and Natasha Pospisil have developed an 11,000-acre grain farm, also operate farm input supply companies and also own and operate the general store in their home community of Kirriemuir, a hamlet in east-central Alberta named after a Scottish burgh.
Jason and Jenna Ranger from Shellbrook, just west of Prince Albert, Sask., crop about 11,000 acres of grains and oilseeds on deeded as well as 65 per cent of their landbase in rented land, working with about 20 different landlords.
Near Glenlea, just south of Winnipeg, nominees Will and Jen Bergman are part of a family hog operation but they also produce corn, canola, wheat, oats and soybeans. The Bergmans also added organic fruit and vegetable production to supply a Community Supported Agriculture market; and partnered with a restaurant in Winnipeg to provide them with produce and meat products.
South east of London, Ont., Jan and Jony Roos have developed a thriving goat dairy which involves milking about 2,500 head of goats daily. They also developed an app to help them manage the growing flock.
Simon Michaud and Mylene Bourque of Kamoursaka, Que., east of Quebec City are the fifth generation on the family dairy farm, having gone through a difficult learning curve to develop the right facilities for a high-producing dairy herd.
And near Coleman on the northern end of Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Canada representatives Justin and Laura Rogers are the seventh generation involved in transitioning the farm from livestock, to certified grain seed production with now plans to make it a dairy farm.
Two of these farm operations, usually representing Eastern and Western Canada will take over the national honours from the 2018 winners, brothers Alex and Jordan McKay of Port Perry, Ont., and Craig and Jinel Ference from Kirriemuir, Alta.
While the regional nominees competed to win the local honours, they have one more round of competition involving interviews and presentations before a panel of judges before the winning couples are announced at the awards banquet Dec. 6.
The OYF Atlantic Canada committee has organized a full agenda of tours and activities for the nominees and other attendees over the four days of the national program. For details visit the program website at: www.oyfcanada.com.
With the first Canadian awards program in 1980, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers Program recognizes young farmers who exemplify excellence in their profession. Eligible nominees must be farm operators between 18 and 39 who derive a minimum of two-thirds of their income from their farm operations.
Each year one farming couple is selected from each of the program’s seven Regional Recognition Events to represent their respective region at the National Recognition Event. At the National Event, the seven honourees are recognized for their achievements and judged panel.
Two of the seven honourees are chosen by the judges as Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers. The national OYF program is sponsored by Agriculture and AgriFood Canada, Bayer, CIBC, John Deere Canada ULC and Sollio Agriculture.