Last week an event was held in Regina which was a signal there is still a good future in terms of farming on the Canadian Prairies.
As part of the Canadian Farm Progress Show, Saskatchewan’s Outstanding Young Farmer Award was presented.
This year I had an opportunity to interview the three finalists, and even managed to get away to do a farm feature on Jordan and Jennifer Lindgren who farm near Norquay.
We often hear concerns from people involved in the agriculture sector that one of the biggest issues facing the sector is attracting the next generation of farmers. It’s not that no young person wants to farm, but there is a huge financial cost involved in acquiring a viable farm these days, and that is a daunting thing for many.
Jordan Lindgren touched on the costs when we visited.
There was never any hesitation to buy out the farm, but it took planning, the Lindgrens related. There were kitchen table discussions regarding succession, and Jordan and Jennifer were helped out by having some of their own land and equipment to soften the impact of taking over.
“We were preparing for it, and we had built up to where we were able to do it,” said Jennifer.
The move increased the couple’s debt load, but Jordan said debt is part of farming these days. If someone is going to farm “debt is going to be part of it,” he said.
“If there’s no risk, there’s no reward,” added Jennifer.
Without a base, Jordan said starting to farm today would be very difficult.
“Trying to start up (from scratch) is almost impossible with the costs that are involved,” he said.
But few can just take over a farm either. Even parents and relatives need to receive money to retire on from selling their operations.
“We had to buy everything,” said Jordan Lindgren, noting his father and uncle deserved to be paid for what they had built up through their partnership of near four decades. “It’s what they had worked their entire lives for. They deserved getting the most they could out of all their hard work.”
But the three Outstanding Young Farmer finalists saw the potential in the sector to take the risk.
Lee and Shannon Sluser, along with their two young children, operate a fourth generation family farm near Glenavon in southeast Saskatchewan. They entered into an agreement to purchase the operations of the family farm from Lee’s parents seven years ago. Since that time they have added 5500 acres to their farm and plan to continue expanding operations in the future.
Michael and Jessica Lovich own and operate Lovholm Holsteins at Balgonie. They were both born and raised on dairy farms in Alberta where they got their start in the dairy industry. The couple purchased their farm in Saskatchewan two-and-a-half years ago.
The paths are different, the focus of their farms is different too, but they are each an example of young people committed to the business of farming, and that is a positive for agriculture.