Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario Commentary
By Franchesca Weeks, CFFO Communications Manager
We’ve all heard the phrase “young farmers are the future of agriculture.” According to Stats Canada the average age of Canadian farmers is 54, and rising. But is this actually the average age of the farm business owner? In our observation, many of our family farms have 2 to 3 generations working on the farm. If all those working on the farm were included, this could bring the average age of farmers much lower. Maybe young farmers are not just the future of agriculture, but are in fact the farmers of today.
The CFFO organized our 2016 free barbeques for farmers under 40 to celebrate the work of today’s farmers. We want to recognize young farmers, show our appreciation and let them know that we admire their hard work on the farm. This is the second year we have travelled across the province inviting every young farmer in the area to come for an evening of fun and fellowship.
At the same time we show our appreciation for what they do for a living. A speaker from FCC at each event talks about “Getting in on the Food Conversation” and how important it is to speak up for agriculture and be “AgProud.”
Each event is held at one of our members’ farms. Our first event was hosted on July 14 in the Chatham-Kent- Essex district at the home of the CFFO’s President Clarence Nywening. The second barbeque was held at the home of Roger and Julie Wikkerink on July 25 in Oxford. The third event was at Rounds Ranch, home of Ken and Geraldine Rounds, on July 27 in Simcoe County. All three events were a huge success.
We entertained the kids with carnival games, face painters, bouncy castles, a photo booth and a cotton candy machine. We also had amazing door prizes that were donated by our sponsors, including one-hundred dollar gift cards, T-shirts, camping chairs, picnic backpacks and more. At each location we had a food bin where farmers were able to donate non-perishable goods to the local food bank.
The CFFO acknowledges that younger farmers have their own issues and concerns. This event was another way for them to voice their opinions and connect with staff on issues such as lack of local processing, onerous regulations, or the challenges of starting a new farm business.
We want to thank our sponsors FCC, Beef Farmers of Ontario, Alpine, FBC, Jaylor, Grand Valley Fortifiers, Grain Farmers of Ontario and Meester Insurance on their amazing support. Without them we wouldn’t have been able to give back to the young farmers in these three districts. Overall these were amazing events of fellowship, great food and entertainment. We look forward to planning similar events for 2017 celebrating farmers of today.