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Still hard for young to start farming

The same problems that have held back young farmers for decades are still there

Still hard for young to start farming

Darren Howden often hears how hard it is for young people to get into farming.

But Farm Credit Canada’s senior vice-president of Prairie operations, heard the same lament in the 1980s when he was young farmer just starting out.

“And it was the same answer,” he told the Keystone Agricultural Producers’ online annual meeting Jan. 26. “It is hard. There are cash issues, it’s an equity issue. It isn’t any different than it was then. But what is different today for young farmers is the expectation of the management.”

In the 1980s the focus was on growing a good crop, Howden said.

“The difference today is you almost have to be a CEO,” he added. “You’ve got to be able to grow a good crop. You have to be able to market that crop. You better watch your finances. In some cases you need some HR (human resources) to deal with staff. You need almost to be a computer scientist to figure out how to run all the technology.

“And that’s why we’ve put a lot of effort into some of the knowledge offerings (at FCC) and really trying to get support… to help you out because it’s not just cash that’s going to make you successful. That’s a big part of it, don’t get me wrong, but there are a lot of hats today’s young farmers need to get comfortable with in order to be successful.”

Asked during a question period about the longer-term effect of high government borrowing to help Canada’s economy during COVID-19, Howden said normally it would be inflationary.

“You can take my opinion with less than a grain a salt, but I don’t know how it can’t be… it has to turn into inflation at some point,” he said.

Asked about how many provincial governments would endorse federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau’s AgriStability changes, Howden quipped between zero and 10, adding the concern the Saskatchewan government has is the extra cost, Howden said.

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Merit estimates Bibeau’s proposal, which would eliminate AgriStability’s reference margin limit and boost compensation to 80 per cent from 70, will cost Saskatchewanians $20 per capita.

Manitoba Agriculture Minister Blaine Pedersen has estimated the additional cost at $15 million. Based on Manitoba’s estimated population of 1.369 million the per capita cost in this province would be $10.96.

About the author


Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.



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