March 23, 2009 For Immediate Release
DELAWARE – Ideas to keep farming alive by getting young people started in agriculture in Ontario were shared here March 21 when close to 130 new and beginning farmers attended the summit organized by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).
Joe Dickenson, OFA Director and Summit Task Team Chair, was “really satisfied with the results of the Summit.” The organizing committee will prepare a report for the OFA Board of Directors for discussion and decisions on action in response to Summit findings.
Overcoming obstacles that discourage and even prevent young people from getting into agriculture has long been a topic of discussions when young farmers and potential young farmers meet. For several years, in conjunction with OFA’s Annual Meeting in November, young farmers gather and discuss issues and concerns related to their entry into and involvement in agriculture.
OFA has discussed the urgent need for more young farmers in the industry, recognizing the fact that without new entrants, Ontario’s farming industry will suffer from the aging process – the average ago of an Ontario farmer is 52. As part of the meeting, participants attempted to develop a definition of a ‘beginning farmer’ – concluding there are too many variables to allow a simple definition.
During the afternoon, half the participants discussed existing programs and what would make them better and the other half did some visioning on what is needed in terms of new programs for beginning farmers. There was agreement on the need for mentorship among beginning farmers – help with business plans, investing in long-term farming, and an information database accessible to all young farmers.
Contact: Joe Dickenson 519-312-0454