On March 5th, young farmers from across Alberta came to the Legislature in Edmonton to meet with Honourable Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture. In attendance were Blake Hall of Prairie Gold Meats (Red Deer, AB), Ian Griebel of Redtail Farms (Castor, AB), Lilli Klamke of Nature’s Way Farm (Grimshaw, AB), Ryan Mason of Reclaim Urban Organics (Pigeon Lake, AB), Moira Watson of Fork in the Rowed Farm (Lethbridge, AB) and Dana Penrice, Young Agrarians Alberta Program Manager. We met with the minister, Assistant Deputy Minister Dave Burdek and Ministerial Assistant Epiphany Dober.
Young Agrarians shared some of what we are learning about new and young farmers in Alberta. We noted that in the 2015 University of Manitoba and the National New Farmer Coalition survey, of the 1326 aspiring and new farmers who participated, 68% of new farmers did not grow up on a farm. What this means is that we need to look at farmer training, business transition and land access in a different way. Young Agrarians is addressing this through our Farmer-to-Farmer event series, our Alberta YA Apprenticeship program and the Land Access work we have planned for 2019.
The young farmers present at the meeting shared their own stories of start up and some of the challenges the have run into along the way. We discussed the value of the new Alberta Local Food Act in supporting new and young farmers as it brings credibility and awareness to a growing sector in agriculture. We highlighted the importance of apprenticeship programs in training the new generation of ecological farmers. We shared our desire for vibrant, thriving rural communities. Also on the table was improving access to lending and grant programs for new farmers.
We are looking forward to continuing the discussion and sharing the needs and opportunities facing new farmers in Alberta. We’re excited by how we can work with government to grow our amazing community of farmers and food lovers across the province!
“Thank you Young Agrarians for taking the time to come from all over the province to meet with me about how we can best support new and aspiring farmers. Your passion for innovation and helping new farmers become enterprise-ready through their programming is really inspirational. Rural Alberta thrives when we take real action to break down barriers for small business and fund projects that attract young families back to rural Alberta. I think we’ve shown that we are not afraid to be bold and make investments where needed to do that.” – Honourable Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture, Government of Alberta