Canadian Support for Young Farmers

A sampling of agencies, public and private

By Diane Rogers

• Through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the federal government offers a website to assist young farmers find programs, training opportunities and grants.

Farm Credit Canada is a federal government agency set up in 1959 to lend money to farmers to buy land and provide capital for expansion in livestock, buildings or equipment. It has 100 branches across Canada and a loan portfolio of $21 billion with 100,000 customers. In 1976, FCC created a program aimed at helping borrowers under the age of 35 to phase into farming. Over $5 billion in standard and customized loans have been disbursed to young farmers over the last 4 years. It also supports several farm groups and has bursaries for ag college students.

• The Canadian Young Farmers Forum was established in 1997 with government and industry funding to provide young farmers 18-to 40-years-old with information via newsletters, a website and provincial workshops  to exchange ideas, provide leadership training and capacity-building to ensure farming success. The national  conference will be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia  Feb. 17-21, 2012.

Outstanding Young Farmer Program is a 31-year-old competition based on a U.S. idea. It brings together farm couples and individuals from 7 regions who have been nominated and vetted through a panel of judges to determine who has the best business and farming practices that year. Nominees must be between the ages of 18 and 39 and derive at least two-thirds of their income from the farm.

• The Canadian 4-H Council teaches children and teenagers about farming to foster an interest in them continuing it as a career. Its activities focus on fun and friends, with monthly meetings, annual conferences, travel exchanges and scholarships. 4-H is funded by provincial and federal governments, equipment and other farm industry businesses.

• In 2010, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association created the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Development Program. It provides training and mentorship opportunities to producers between the ages of 18 and 35, providing them with the expertise and business acumen to sustain the cattle industry. This year there are 16 mentor-individual teams.

National Farmers Union is a left-leaning policy group formed in 1969. The NFU works toward the development of economic and social policies that will maintain the family farm as the primary food-producing unit in Canada. It has women’s and youth presidents on its board in addition to the regular executive structure.

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