Young men and women with agricultural experience are welcome to apply to be part of the group that will meet to discuss policies, challenges and opportunities in the agri-food sector
By Jackie Clark
Ottawa has put out a call for applications for young people working or learning in the agricultural sector to form the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council. The council will “provide valuable advice on agriculture and agri-food issues that matter most to them – everything from sustainable agriculture, market diversification and innovation, to the digital shift, intergenerational transfers and mental health,” said the Jan. 24 release.
“I think it’s a really exciting announcement,” Jen Christie, founder of the Ag Women’s Network, told Farms.com.
“When the prime minister formed his youth council a couple of years ago, I think there was an expectation that some of the ministries would follow suit,” Christie said. Ag Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau “has really emphasized the importance of engaging youth voices in the policy conversations, and I think this is a really great step to ensure that those voices get heard.”
The council may be an opportunity for young people, and traditionally under-represented groups such as young women and Indigenous youth, to contribute to policy discussions.
“Council membership will comprise of a diverse group of youth from across the country, including representatives of Indigenous communities,” the release said. Criteria require successful applicants to be Canadian residents between 18 and 30 years of age with some background or experiences in the agriculture and food industry.
“I think it’s really important that voices that are typically under-represented are heard,” Christie said.
“They’re the future of the industry … they’re the leaders that we’re going to look to in the future. I think it’s really important that their voices are at the table so that policy is being shaped with their perspective and their needs in mind,” she said.
Young people in the ag industry face different challenges and have different priorities than previous generations. It can often be difficult for stakeholders in the ag industry to have their messages heard by the federal government.
“I believe that people who have the most impact are the people that have the most access. And as much as the (agriculture) industry tries really hard to have young people and under-represented groups engaged through different initiatives, at the end of the day, those are often the people who can’t give up the time to be in Ottawa on a regular basis to have these conversations,” Christie explained.
“Hopefully Ottawa will provide a forum so that they can be involved and that their input will be asked for regularly and taken seriously,” she added.
The council will meet twice a year, with additional online communication with Minister Bibeau, other public servants and national organizations, according to the release.
“I really hope that it is an ongoing conversation,” Christie said. “I hope that this is going to be an initiative that is ongoing and authentic, and those individuals will have a chance to see the input and feedback they’ve given be incorporated into policy and put into action.”
Individuals who are interested can apply here before 11:59 p.m. pacific time on February 14, 2020.