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Canadian Young Farmers' Forum

Established in 1997, it is CYFF’s goal to assist young farmers with information while exchanging ideas that lead to progressive strategies to ensure farming success in Canada. Through networking with young farmers – like yourself – our organization’s goal is to provide education, leadership training and capacity building for young agriculture producers of Canada.

Through CYFF’s speakers and innovative workshops, our goal is to increase all participants’ knowledge of the agriculture industry and provide positive tools to aid young farmers in successful farm management. Through the development of both national and provincial structures, participants’ leadership skills are enhanced and prepare you to take a more active role in agriculture and rural organizations.

With increased opportunities for dialogue, networking and action planning amongst participants, organizations, and industry stakeholders, more effective programs and policies across the country will result. The industry will also benefit from the creation of a pool of skilled future leaders – like you – with an awareness of issues in Canadian agriculture and a proven commitment to developing collaborative, creative solutions.


CYFF Month in Review

Carolyn Wilson, CYFF Director

In early December, I attended the AgEx conference in Fredericton, NB. Although weather wasn’t favorable for travelling, it was a well-attended event with nationwide representation. The conference had a farm-succession focus and highlighted the research of recent Nuffield scholars.

I was invited to participate in the farm succession panel and share my experiences with farm transition with other farmers at differing stages of succession in their respective businesses. I also had the opportunity to talk with several conference attendees about CYFF and NBYFF at a rotating table discussion session.

In January, I will be returning to Fredericton to attend the NBYFF AGM and Conference.

Emma Bryce, CYFF Director

BC Young Farmers hosted our annual Farm Fest event on November 16th, 2019. This year, the event was held at the University of the Fraser Valley’s Chilliwack campus, with a great line up of speakers presenting throughout the afternoon. The event was an opportunity to showcase and support local craft beer, wine and cider. Fuggles and Warlock craft brewery, Ravens Brewing Company, Harker’s Organic Cider, and Maan’s Country Farm winery attended, and the event was catered with local food produced in the Fraser Valley, with delicious hors d’oeuvres provided by the University of the Fraser Valley’s culinary department.  The entire afternoon was a delight for the senses as well as the mind.

Speakers presented on a variety of topics relevant to young farmers. Eben Lowe discussed tips for youth to plan their farm business 5 years ahead, stressing the need to have a plan in place that is both manageable and quantifiable. Keynote speaker Chris Koch gave an incredibly motivating talk – he grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan without arms or legs, but never let it hold him back. His talk ‘If I Can’ highlighted how important it is not to let outside expectations limit your capabilities. Our final speaker, Sarah Kate Smith, is a youth ambassador for 4-H, and represented Canada at the United Nations Committee on Food Security, and then returned to speak on the UN Food and Agriculture Organization panel, which focused on youth as drivers of innovation. Her talk emphasized the important role that youth play in agriculture, and how important it is for our voices to be heard on an international scale, especially in regards to policy decisions.

The event was a huge success, and has left BC Young Farmers eagerly planning next year.

Emma Bryce, CYFF Director

Ag Days is an annual event hosted by the BC Agriculture Council. Industry representatives are invited to connect with MLAs, cabinet ministers, senior government officials and stakeholders such as the Agricultural Land Commission. Meetings are small and carefully scheduled, allowing farmers and ranchers to discuss challenges with elected officials, and increase the awareness of the impact agriculture has on our local economy.

At the forefront this year was discussion on agri-terrorism and tightening of trespassing laws, in response to a growing trend of animal rights activism happening in the province. Other key messages raised by BCAC was the need for the Agricultural Land Commission to reflect the need of farmers, and that the Agricultural Land Reserve should be supporting farmers, not working against them. These points were aimed at recent legislative changes concerning the ALR, which have upset many farmers in the province.

The event was well organized and the meeting and discussions lively. Ag days is an effective way of ensuring local governance is aware of the challenges facing farmers around the province. The event is also a great opportunity for elected officials to meet some of those that produce food across the province. I was grateful for the opportunity to represent Canadian young farmers and highlight some of the issues that are facing young farmers today.

Veronica Vermeulen, CYFF Director

Nova Scotia Young Farmers hosted their annual BBQ Saturday, July 20. It was a beautiful day for a BBQ! The event started with a tour of Forest Glen Greenhouses. Forest Glen Greenhouses started in 1985 as just a small scale garden, but this is a six acre growing facility! Some of their products include spring perennials/annuals, started vegetables/herbs, as well as garden mums. Next on the tour was Truro Agromart. Truro Agromart specializes in fertilizer, seed, agricultural pesticides, farm supply, and agronomic services including crop scouting, GPS mapping, and soil sampling. In the recent years they have put in an entire new computerized system to precisely blend different ingredients for products Farmers are looking for. The technology was certainly impressive seeing how quickly and efficiently they could freshly make the most customized fertilizer blend. Agromart also hosted the BBQ lunch which included fresh chicken and burgers. The food and prizes were generously donated by NS Cattle Producers, Eden Valley Poultry, Agropur, and FCC. Thank you to our sponsors! The final tour was Green Oaks Dairy, a new dairy facility built two years ago after a devastating barn fire. This barn has natural light, the highest quality ventilation, comfortable stalls, cow brushes and milking robots. Green Oaks is a great dairy advocate with an active and popular Facebook page.

Rodney Reid, CYFF Vice-Chair

Attending the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) meetings truly provides a glimpse of the complexity of Canadian Agriculture. Farmers gather together to discuss opportunities and challenges, such as committee meetings on Food Loss, Lab Made Commodities, and the Temporary Foreign Workers Program Housing. The topics of the current committee meetings, Food Loss and Lab Grown Meats, are very complex and large in nature that affect not just farmers, but all Canadians. The environment is always close to mind of farmers, which is a pillar of Producing Prosperity in Canada (www.producingprosperitycanada.com), a presentation about the Government Carbon Offset Consultation with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

CFA presented on the plans/dates for The Brigid Rivoire Award for Champions of Agricultural Mental Health. The annual award recognizes a specific initiative that has made outstanding contributions in raising awareness, addressing stigma, and supporting mental health for farmers in their local community. This annual award includes a $2,000 donation to a mental health initiative of the recipient’s choice, along with an invitation to attend the CFA Annual General Meeting in February with all expenses paid. For more information please visit https://www.cfa-fca.ca/programs-and-projects/mentalhealthaward/.

There were many presentations that included current Federal investment policies and areas of opportunity, and an update on the Value Chain Round Tables and youth as a primary group for engagement. Other presentations included Canada’s Food Day, updates on the challenges of International Trade, Crop Life Canada on glyphosate and Fertilizer Canada on safety and the success of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship (Right Source at the Right rate, at the Right time and in the Right Place).

One highlight of the CFA summer meetings is the CFA/FPT Ministers Tripartite Roundtable, a meeting with the Federal, Provincial and Territory Agriculture Ministers. CFA Chair, Mary Robinson, and the Federal Minister of Agriculture, Marie-Claude Bibeau, welcomed everyone and were very engaged. CFA presented on the Three Pillars of Producing Prosperity in more depth. After the round table a reception was hosted by the FPT ministers which provided opportunity for people to speak one-on-on with the Ministers and ministerial staff. Thank you to CFA for providing the opportunity for young farmers to engage and share their voice at the national table.

Julie Bissonnette, CYFF Director

Meeting with Minister Bibeau during the Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) AGM in Saskatoon.

Several provinces invited young farmers. We took advantage of the Minister of Agriculture’s presence to talk with her about compensation for the supply-managed sectors, problems with other countries that affect our income security and the presence of women in agriculture and in government. At the AGM, we heard speeches from leaders of political parties, among others.


Emma Bryce, CYFF Director

On June 28th I attended a luncheon hosted by the Yukon Convention Bureau at the Coast Restaurant in Vancouver. The luncheon was an opportunity for the YCB to highlight some of the attractions of the Yukon as an event destination.

Their presentation included information on the Yukon’s variety of conference centers, attractions, burgeoning industries, and natural wonders. They highlighted affordability and the Yukon’s position as a growing population, with constant innovations and expansion happening in their agricultural and culinary scenes.

The Yukon Convention Bureau gave a fantastic presentation, and made a compelling case for choosing the Yukon as a CYFF conference destination for the future!

Carolyn Wilson, CYFF Director

Cardigan, PEI – The wet weather did not dampen spirits at Agriculture in the Classroom – Canada’s (AITC-C) Annual conference. Over three days, provincial AITC directors, government representatives, and partners from national commodity groups and industries discussed the successes and challenges of agricultural education. The event was kicked off with an exciting announcement by Honorable Minister Lawrence MacAulay with a promise of $1.5 million dollars of federal government funding for Ag in the Classroom programming. The announcement was followed by a cross-island tour of farms that showcased the innovation of local farmers, and the ability of Islanders to tap into niche tourist markets with value-added products. It was inspiring to see the dedication of these farmers to both the industry and the promotion of agricultural awareness in their respective communities. One of the highlights of the conference was the small group discussions with key partners (including CYFF!) on the future of Canadian agriculture and the role of Agriculture in the Classroom. It was great to sit at the table for this discussion, one very relevant for young farmers across the country. 

Canadian Young Farmers Forum and AITC-C share many core values including transparency, fostering connections and educating young Canadians. Both organizations also share a similar governance structure featuring a board of provincial directors and staff who deliver programming on a national level. From AITC-C’s annual progress report, it is clear that they have met success through this governance model. Ag in the Classroom Canada has seen impressive growth in recent years, securing a 40% increase in partner funding in 2018. In addition, since launching its new website in 2018, AITC-C has had over 40,000 page views and over 12,000 visitors. It delivers Canadian Agricultural Literacy Month annually and reached nearly 60,000 students in 2018. I am excited to see how CYFF and AITC-C can continue to work together to educate and inspire young Canadians in the future. I am also VERY excited to return to PEI in March for CYFF’s annual conference to learn more about empowering young Canadians in their agriculture endeavors!

Julie Bissonnette, CYFF Director

The annual meeting for the implementation of the 2018-2025 Quebec Biofood Policy was held on May 31, 2019, bringing together a number of government and food sector stakeholders, including the Minister of Agriculture, André Lamontagne – Member of Parliament for Johnson, Minister of Health Danielle McCann – Member of Parliament for Sanguinet, Canadian Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau and several others. Julie Bissonnette (CYFF Board Member and FRAQ president) and PL Hervieux (FRAQ Board member) were both present. They took part in the bio-food sector partners’ roundtable in order to promote the interests of young people in agriculture and to ensure the attainment of the objectives that had been set.

You can watch the day’s proceedings here (in French):



Emma Bryce, CYFF Director

On May 31st, BC Young Farmers held our Spring Farm Tour at 3 unique locations in the Fraser Valley.

Our first stop was Berezan Shrimp Farm, a land based aquaculture facility designed to produce 100 metric tonnes of shrimp annually. Our members were treated to a tour of the facility, which included rearing tanks and a recirculating water system. The closed containment water system consumes low levels of water each day, filtering and recirculating water every few hours to reduce water consumption.

Next young farmers got a tour of Central Park Farms, a pasture raised livestock operation that produces broiler chickens, hogs, and Black Angus beef. Central Park Farms sells direct to consumer through farmers markets, an online store and on farm location, where they offer over 75 varieties of products.

Finally, we ended our tour at the Fraser Valley Cidery, where we were treated to a tour of their operation and a tasting of their products. Members spent the evening relaxing in the sunshine and networking with cider in hand – the perfect way to end a day!

I am Kaitlyn Kitzan, a grain and cattle producer in east central Saskatchewan and a 4th year Agribusiness student at the University of Saskatchewan. I had the opportunity to represent Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum at the first annual Prime Minister’s Youth Summit. Youth from across the country gathered in Ottawa to discuss policy issues that matter to the next generation. 

There were five policy focus areas:

  • health and wellness;
  • employment, innovation and learning;
  • gender equality;
  • environment and climate change;
  • leadership, social impact and democratic participation.

During the health and wellness policy discussions, I brought up the topic of mental health in agriculture. We had a great discussion of the need for more resources in rural Canada. The employment, innovation and learning policy discussions led me to express the labour shortage we are facing in agriculture and some solutions to attract more youth to the industry. It was also a time for me to promote all the innovation happening in the Canadian agriculture industry. The gender equality session was focussed on encouraging more women to enter the sciences, so I discussed the women in agriculture movement.

Environment and climate change were probably the top policy discussions of the Youth Summit. It allowed me to showcase what farmers are doing across this country to make sure we are being stewards of the environment and using sustainable production practises. During a networking event with the ministers, I had the opportunity to talk with Environment Minister McKenna about how Canadian farmers are stewards of the environment. 

To end the Youth Summit, the Prime Minister hosted a Town Hall. I had prepared a question for him but did not get the opportunity to ask it. “We have seen international agricultural markets deteriorate, such as China, India, Italy. What is your government doing to ensure that we have secure existing and new markets for the future?”

While in Ottawa, I also had the opportunity to meet with strong voices for the agriculture industry such as the critic for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Luc Berthold. The following week I had a phone call with the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to discuss hot topics in the agriculture industry. 

I would like to thank Canadian Young Farmers Forum for this opportunity! 

Carolyn Wilson, CYFF Director 

What do delicious grilled steak, freestyle rapping, and many enthusiastic young farmers have in common? The CYFF conference in Toronto – that’s what!

It was a session-packed 2 ½ days with the bulk of presentations sparking discussion about risk, managing risk, and new approaches to thinking about the profitability of farming businesses. On Saturday night, Darby Allen did an amazing talk about his experiences as a fire chief during the Fort McMurray forest fire. His message about team work and sacrifice was very touching and inspirational. He really showed how nearly impossible goals could be achieved.

But for me, the highlight of the conference was the virtual farm tours. Hearing the passion in the voices of each of the farmers discussing their operations – from off-grid pork farming in the Yukon, to a small butcher making big waves in Newfoundland carrying on family traditions, and many dairy, crop and beef farmers in between. It showed me how resilient and resourceful young farmers are in finding new markets and opportunities to increase their profitability. It gave me ideas to bring back to my own operation and implement in the coming months.

Veronica Vermeulen, CYFF Director

I was lucky to attend the Fusion Conference in Milwaukee with Paul Glenn from CYFF, as well as Kim and Carly from AAFC. The conference was located in a huge city centre and there was a large attendance – over 1,000 people! The first person I met was Russ Kohler, an innovative young dairy farmer from Utah who served as the exiting chair of American Young Farmers & Ranchers. Paul, Carly, Kim and myself set up a Canadian/American trade booth and had many valuable conversations with everyone that stopped by about the strength of our trade partnership. I learned many things myself, especially about how interconnected our agricultural systems are and how we rely on each other.

Throughout the weekend there were incredible speakers including Jim Morris, as well as Redmond Ramos. Jim Morris spoke about the value of hard work and humility. Redmond Ramos spoke about overcoming adversity and how there is no strength in being the victim. I attended breakout sessions on lobbying, talking to consumers, and my personal favorite – flying drones! The Saturday night entertainment took place at the Harley Davidson Museum, where there were two levels of entertainment creating the perfect environment to meet some fellow young farmers. Paul and I were happy to meet new members of the American Young Farmers & Ranchers board including Paul, Nick, and Kelly. I look forward to getting to know them more in the coming year. As always, we are happy to attend and learn more about the great work our American neighbors do every day. Next year’s conference is set to be held in Louisville, Kentucky – can’t wait!

Rodney Reid, CYFF Vice-Chair

What a great experience engaging with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) lobby day and quarterly meeting in Ottawa. The event started off with a training day that included media training, the launch of the non-partisan initiative, Producing Prosperity in Canada. My team, along with Todd Lewis and a CFA staff member, met with Senator Diane Griffin, Francis Drouin, Robert (Bob) Nault, Ed Fast and Ralph Goodale. Over 50 meetings were held with MPs and Senators.

The Producing Prosperity in Canada campaign focuses on the benefits of the domestic agri-food industry and highlights its strengths, including: Economic Growth, Food Security and Environmental Stewardship. The MPs and Senators were engaged in the agriculture conversation and were supportive of the campaign, with many questions and highlights that showcased the strength of the agri-food industry in Canada and the potential to continued growth.

Thank you to all MPs and Senators for taking the time to meet with agriculture representatives and for pledging your support of Canada’s agri-food industries to grow and prosper, for the benefit of all Canadians. Also, a thank you to the CFA board and staff for supporting CYFF and engaging young farmers. To learn more about the Producing Prosperity in Canada campaign, please visit: www.producingprosperitycanada.ca

Carolyn Wilson, CYFF Director

On April 23, I was invited on behalf of New Brunswick Young Farmers to attend a roundtable discussion with the Honorable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. The event was facilitated by the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick and representatives from major commodity groups were present including the Atlantic Grains Council, vegetable farmers, dairy and beef farmers, pork farmers, egg farmers, and blueberry producers. Pat Finnigan, the Member of Parliament for Miramichi-Grand Lake was also in attendance.

During this roundtable discussion, I spoke on challenges facing young farmers and potential solutions. I provided a bit of context for the Minister on the current state of agriculture in our province: according to the 2016 Census – NB was the province that reported the largest percentage decrease in total farm area of all provinces in Canada. NB also saw a drop of nearly 14% in the total number of farms between 2011 and 2016. I highlighted a number of challenges facing young farmers including the lack of labour, poor access to land, implications of climate change and challenges in obtaining public trust. I then discussed at length the greatest barrier preventing young New Brunswickers from “digging” into agriculture: risk.

“The biggest challenge is our feeling of uncertainty in the future of Canadian agriculture. Our young dairy farmers are concerned about supply management and the future of the quota system. How can young farmers afford to pay for their father’s million-dollar dairy operation when they feel threatened they’ll lose it completely? Where is the stability young people can feel confident investing in? We also have the risk of weather – extreme weather – like frost and flooding. Do we have crop insurance programs that help young farmers stay afloat? Or when damages are high, are the programs unable to give farmers the money they need? The list goes on. Many, many young farmers in this province are working full time jobs off the farm to make ends meet and pay off their debts. How is this sustainable? How can we mediate risk for our young farmers?”

I concluded my speech by providing some potential solutions, including: 1) implementing EI programs similar to those in place for self-employed fishermen, 2) offering crop and farmland insurance programs that provide adequate compensation for young farmers in the early years of their farms, 3) securing a market for New Brunswick grown products in public institutions like schools and hospitals, and 4) providing more risk management and technical training to young farmers though organizations like NBYFF and CYFF. Many other producers echoed my points during the discussion. Other issues mentioned included: challenges with new livestock transportation regulations, a lack of farmer-business training opportunities, a lack of professional/technical advice, a need for Canada to explore new markets for our products (less of a reliance on single markets), and lack of price assurance in the beef industry – to name only a few. The Honorable Marie-Claude Bideau listened keenly to each of the farmers. She concluded the roundtable by highlighting some of the federal budget funds dedicated to agriculture, including a focus on promotion of Canadian food products with the aim of developing strong pride for Canadian products.

Our Focus

Formal education, as well as extension training and service, are essential to keep young farmers efficient, effective, and forward-thinking. Incentive programs for education help to ensure a progressive agriculture industry through the efforts of young farmers.
Public support of the agriculture industry is essential to the long term viability of Canadian food producers. Young farmers recognize the important role that agriculture awareness plays in their future success.

CYFF is the national organization affiliated with provincial and territorial organizations. Young Farmers from across Canada have the opportunity to connect with their peers at the provincial level through the independent provincial organizations or by attending CYFF’s national young farmers conference which brings young farmers from each province together at the annual event to network, learn and contribute to the future of ag programming.