Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers Advocate for Agriculture
As an Outstanding Young Farmer alumnus, Luanne Lynn knows what it’s like to prepare for the upcoming National Recognition event. Fourteen years ago, as the Regional representatives from Ontario, Lynn and her husband told the story of their feedlot and crop operation to a judging panel at the event in Halifax. They’ve continued sharing their story with young farmers across the country ever since. Lynn says the networking opportunity is the greatest advantage of the OYF program.
“The first year of OYF is about the competition – you are focused on preparing your submission and showcasing your operation,” says Lynn who is currently finishing up her last year as Past-President of OYF and her 8th year on the National Board. “After that, you will hear honourees and alumni refer to OYF as their second family, because everyone continues to share the personal successes and struggles of their farms going forward.”
Eligibility and Selection
The Outstanding Young Farmers Program recognizes farmers between the ages of 19 and 39 who represent farming excellence and are all-around ambassadors for agriculture. To meet the program requirements, nominees must derive a minimum of 2/3 of their income from their farm operation.
Each year, a winner is chosen in seven different regions across the country. These winners represent their region at the National Recognition Event. The location of the National Event rotates around the country, with this year’s event being held December 4th to 8th in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Regional winners are judged on the progress they have made throughout their farming career, their environmental practices, their crop and production history, their financial management and their contributions to the agricultural community and beyond.
Participation and Representation
Western Canada has been well represented at the national level with seven of the winners over the last decade hailing from among the three prairie provinces.
Now located in Saskatchewan with farming operations in both Saskatchewan and Ontario, Lynn says that throughout her tenure with OYF, the organization has continued to seek out pockets of agricultural excellence across Canada and showcase them to other farmers and to the general public.
“We have nominating committees in each region and we ask them to talk to people who may see interesting operations,” she says. “We will hear from farm organizations, financial institutions and even personal acquaintances who feel someone deserves recognition. Once someone has accepted a nomination, they complete an in-depth application and interview process where they tell us all about their operation and personal contributions beyond the farm.”
She says that the applications have always been very diverse – from traditional cattle and crop operations that think outside the box to more unique operations involving beekeeping, grapevine propagation, direct marketing, and farm entertainment venues. The regional winners and alumni are frequently requested to speak to media, host farm tours and are called on as a resource to participate in political committees to help form and improve policies affecting agriculture.
The OYF program originated in Canada in 1980 and is supported through government and industry sponsors and through the continued participation of alumni who return each year to the National Recognition Event to honour and welcome new members. You can follow OYF on Twitter at @CanadaOYF
Be sure to visit our site next month for a profile of this year’s national winners.