Carman-area farmers Jason and Laura Kehler will represent Manitoba at the Canadian Outstanding Young Farmers finals in Niagara Falls in late November.
The couple, was selected from several nominees at the provincial event in Winnipeg.
The Kehlers operate Kehler Farms Ltd., a 5,600-acre operation producing potatoes, seed soybeans, corn, canola, oats, wheat, soybeans and edible beans. “When farming is what you’ve always wanted to be in, there is a tremendous satisfaction when it all comes together,” says Franck Groeneweg, second vice-president, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers program. “Jason and Laura are doing what they love, and setting tremendous examples to the industry, their community and their family about the rewards of hard work, determination and respect for others and the land.”
Jason worked alongside his dad on the family operation throughout his 20s. In 2000, his dad gave him a 20 per cent share in the family operation, and today the couple has taken over Kehler Farms Ltd. Laura has always worked in the agriculture sector — in the agri-food industry, research and development, and as a senior scientist with Manitoba Agriculture.
Since 2014, the Kehlers have increased their total crop production acres by nearly 50 per cent, boosting processing potato acres by more than 100 per cent, purchasing three quarter sections of land, and installing drain tile on four quarters. Their long-term goals for the farm business centre on increasing their land base, purchasing farm shares from Jason’s dad each year, and increasing total production while managing debt wisely.
Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program, now in its 36th year, is an annual competition to recognize farmers who exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.