20-plus resources to help young farmers get started

It’s not an easy business to enter, but rebates, scholarships, peer groups and training programs are out there to smooth the transition

Some might say there’s never been a harder time to be a young farmer—near-exorbitant land prices, unpredictable weather, international trade conflict, and now a pandemic.

Thea Green is program manager at Keystone Agriculture Producers and coordinates KAP’s young farmer wing. Here, she shares 20-plus financial, educational and developmental resources to make life easier for young and emerging farmers.

Financial Resources

MASC Young Farmers Rebate Program

This program is designed to assist young or beginning farmers under age 40 to develop or expand farming operations by offering rebates on the first $200,000 of total loan principle. This is available in each year of the loan’s first five years. Each person has a maximum rebate of $20,000 but any unused portion of this limit can be applied to subsequent loans.

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masc.mb.ca/masc.nsf/program_bridging_generations.html

Young Farmer Crop Plan Credit (MASC)

For farmers ages 18 to 39, this program “assists young and beginning farmers with AgriInsurance costs while ensuring their crop production decisions are based on sound agronomic practices and their own cost of production information” MASC’s website says. A one-time premium subsidy of up to $300 will be applied against AgriInsurance premiums.

The program requires applicants to complete and application and prepare and implement a cropping plan approved by a Manitoba Ag extension specialist. Deadline is March 31.

masc.mb.ca/masc.nsf/program_agriinsurance.html

FCC Supporting Young Farmers – Starter Loan

This program, designed for farmers aged 18 to 25, offers special rates (variable open at prime plus 1.2 per cent, variable closed at prime plus 1 per cent) and special one to five year fixed rates. There are no loan processing fees.

fcc-fac.ca/en/financing/agriculture/young-farmers.html

Red River Ex – Scholarships

For residents of Manitoba wishing to enter or continue post-secondary studied in agriculture or a related field at a Manitoban university or accredited college. Scholarships range from $1,000 to $1,500. Annual deadline to apply is the second Friday in May.

redriverex.com/scholarship-application

Bayer Crop Science Scholarship for Future Leaders

Six $5,000 scholarships are awarded annually at Canadian agriculture universities to students who “demonstrate their leadership, engagement and contribution to agriculture in Canada through their academic, volunteer/community involvement and/or extracurricular activities,” says Bayer’s website.

Students at the University of Manitoba may be eligible.

cropscience.bayer.ca/en/Our-Company/ScholarshipInformation/Future-Leaders

Other Scholarships

At the link, under the “Beginning & Young Farmers” tab, click “Awards and Scholarships.”

fmc-gac.com/what-are-you-looking-for

Post Secondary and other Further Education

For farmers just getting started, a post-secondary education in agriculture can be helpful.

“The personal relationships that develop within these educational programs provide an excellent support network and lifelong learning cohort,” said Green.

Programs include the University of Manitoba’s ag diploma and degree programs.

umanitoba.ca/agricultural-food-sciences

Assiniboine Community College’s diploma program and other ag training offered (18 programs in total).

assiniboine.net/programs

The University of Guelph offers online ag courses for continuing education.

uoguelph.ca/oac/continuing-education

It also offers distance education options courses.

For very young, or teenage farmers, 4-H programs can build valuable skills.

4h-mb.ca

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank offers agricultural Learning Tours for international travel opportunities related to farming.

foodgrainsbank.ca/get-involved/study-tours

Crop Diagnostic School

Hosted by the University of Manitoba and Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development, this short program is designed to refine the diagnostic skills of agronomists or producers to use in field scouting and assessing crop health. This year, the program will be hosted online.

gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/crop-diagnostic-services/manitoba-crop-diagnostic-school.html

Industry Groups and Professional Development

Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP)

Young farmers are invited to attend KAP meetings and district meetings to hear guest speakers provide industry insight, learn about the policy issues impacting agriculture, develop communication and leadership skills, and connect with other farmers on issues that impact ag. KAP’s Young Farmer policy committee- meets several times yearly to address policy issues that are specific to young farmers in Manitoba.

kap.ca

Manitoba Young Farmers

This program provides opportunities for learning, sharing, networking and refining farm management skills, including the annual Manitoba Young Farmers conference.

kap.ca/youngfarmers

Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum

A national group that meets annually at a conference and AGM to bring together farmers from across Canada for leadership training, networking and to provide education.

cyff.ca

Manitoba’s Outstanding Young Farmers Program

Part of Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers Program, the program is designed to recognize young farmers, ages 18 to 39, that “exemplify excellence in their profession”, the organization’s site says. Each year one farming couple is selected from each of the program’s seven Regional Recognition Events to represent their respective region at the national event.

manitoba.oyfcanada.com

Manitoba Canola Growers Association Learn to Lead Training

This event “gives farmers the opportunity to expand the skills they need to lead and give back to their communities and the agriculture industry,” MCGA’s website says.

Green also suggests becoming involved in ag commodity groups by attending meetings, getting involved on boards, and seeking out leadership development and training programs some of these groups offer.

canolagrowers.com/your-farm-voice

Cattlemen’s Young Leaders

This mentorship program provides industry-specific training, and “interest-specific” mentorship for young producers, ages 18 to 35, the organization’s website says. Each year, candidates are selected to participate in the program and are matched with an expert in the mentee’s field of interest (risk management, sustainable ranching, policy development research and so on).

The candidates are also given a yearly budget of $2,000 for travel expenses to industry events and conventions. This program opens for applications in January and closes late March.

cattlemensyoungleaders.com

Canadian Total Excellence in Agricultural Management (CTEAM)

This course, provided through Agri-Food Management Excellence (AME), is delivered through a combination of face-to-face and online sessions. It assists producers to develop strategic and operations plans for their farms while learning from experts and peers.

agrifoodtraining.com/for-producers-cteam

Other leadership training opportunities include:

Peer Groups

Joining a producer peer group can provide key relationships, insight into farming issues and professional development.

These can include facilitated peer groups from Backswath Management, including the new Emerging Young Farmers Peer Group.

backswath.com/services/peer-groups.html

Other facilitated peer groups, including Powerfarm facilitated by Rob Saik.

About the author

Reporter

Geralyn Wichers

Geralyn Wichers grew up on a hobby farm near Anola, Manitoba, where her family raised cattle, pigs and chickens. Geralyn graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in 2019 and was previously a reporter for The Carillon in Steinbach. Geralyn is also a published author of science fiction and fantasy novels.

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