The price to run a farm continues to grow, and it might be the reason why fewer youth are getting involved in the industry.
“I think one of the biggest hurdles that youth and new entrants run into would be the cost,” says agriculture producers association of Saskatchewan (APAS) president, Ian Boxall.
“Without that generational support, the support of a retiring farmer, the cost would be the hugest issue for them to get in.”
Most farmers in the province run a family farm that has been passed down through the generations, either growing the operation or keeping it running.
“I would like to see anyone of any age being able to get into farming,” says Boxall. “I would like to see a kid who grew up in the city get involved in agriculture and whether that’s working for somebody on the farm, and there is no succession plan in place.”
Kody Kushniruk has wanted to take over his family farm since middle school. He is currently in his third year of an agriculture business degree at the University of Saskatchewan.
Established in 1946, it is currently run by three generations — his grandfather, father and himself. “I’ve always been a hands-on learner,” says Kushniruk. “I’m always going back to my roots. You can’t really beat real life experience.
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“I find myself often, with big school projects and concepts I don’t understand, going back to dad or grandpa and getting their perspective.”
The farming landscape has changed in the province since the realization of a career in farming came to Kody. “With all the new taxes and policy coming our right now regarding the carbon tax and wanting to lower fertilizer inputs by a certain percentage in the next coming years, that’s definitely something to look at,” Kody said.
“This is really being pushed at schools and universities. How can a farm financially handle those kinds of changes.”
Kushniruk seconds that finances are a hurdle for newcomers into the agriculture sector, who are looking at farming or ranching.
“The trend right now is a lot of big farmers are eating up smaller farmers so that will take away a lot of the mom-and-pop operations.”
Farm Credit Canada (FCC) has been hosting a series of Young Farmers summits to better understand issues newcomers face, along with hosting discussions on mental health and running a business.
“We want to make sure that producers understand where the business is at,” says FCC content and event manager, Jason Fiske. “Understand the cost of production and they understand their numbers so they can know the decision-making that comes with running a successful farm.”
There are many roles inside the agriculture sector besides ranching and farming. APAS currently runs a youth and mentorship program for people ages 18-40.
It offers support to youth to become leaders in the ag sector through learning and mentorship.
“One in nine people are employed in agriculture in Canada,” says Boxall. “There is an opportunity for people who have a passion for agriculture whether they’re directly involved in the growing of crops or not.”