Growing the Next Generation of Farmers – Policy Recommendations

Posted by Darcy Smith on August 20, 2021

Young Agrarians launched in 2012 as an educational farmer-to-farmer resource network. Now in year 10, we’ve connected with thousands of farmers across Canada online, at events, through our land access, business development, and apprenticeship programs, and through farmer consultation and advisories.

The federal, provincial, and territorial governments fund agriculture through 5-year agreements – many of you will have heard of Growing Forward 1 and 2, and the current funding agreement, the Canadian Agriculture Partnership. Negotiations are currently under way for the Next Policy Framework, which will determine what programs and funding are available to farmers starting in 2023.

There is no better time than now to make sure the voices of new farmers are heard in the development of policy and funding that – if those voices are heard – has the power to significantly increase investment in new farmers. Young Agrarians has distilled the challenges and opportunities for new farmers into this 1-pager document that acts as an entry-point to exploring how policy can be shaped to support new farmers into the future.

Why invest in new farms? We need new farmers. Market failure for primary production is a reality for many farms; however, without primary production, agri-foods cannot exist. It is in our best interest to ensure that primary production is as resilient as possible. This requires investment of a more significant nature in farm renewal through publicly available programs.

What is the farm renewal crisis? According to the 2016 Census of Agriculture, just 1.6% of Canadians farm, and the average age of farmers is 56. New farmers 35 and younger make up less than 10% of the sector – we are in a growing succession and land transition crisis. As the cost of land and production increase decade to decade, the barriers to getting into farming have increased significantly.

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