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Honouring outstanding Canadian farmers

Honouring outstanding Canadian farmers

Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ event will take place Dec. 2 and 3

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Young farm couples from across Canada will highlight their operations at a virtual event in December.

Seven regional winners, all between the ages of 18 and 39, from across the country are participating in Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ (COYF) national event on Dec. 2 and 3.

The virtual event is free to attend.

The contestants are attending the event in Saskatoon, Sask. in-person and will make presentations to a panel of judges.

The winners will be named the national COYF winners.

Representing the BC/Yukon region is Raymond and Tracey Bredenhof.

The Bredenhofs operate a commercial broiler farm in Abbotsford, B.C., where they raise about 225,000 chickens per year. The pair plan to upgrade their barns to increase production by about 25 per cent.

The couple is also part of the province’s re-emerging hop industry. connected with the Bredenhofs in May 2020 after they were named the BC/Yukon Outstanding Young Farmers for 2020.

Roelof and Mary van Benthem, owners of Van Benthem Dairy in Spruce View, Alta., will represent Alberta/NWT at the national event.

The couple farm almost 900 acres of alfalfa and wheat in addition to their herd of 120 milking cows.

Roelof’s ag journey started in the Netherlands where his parents operated a dairy farm. The farm was located in a nature preservation area and wasn’t allowed to expand. spoke with Roelof and Mary in February 2020. Read the article to find out why Roelof’s parents made the decision to move to Canada in 2000.

Michael and Jessica Lovich, dairy farmers from Balgonie, Sask., will represent their home province at the December national event.

The couple’s 70-cow operation focuses on breeding conformationally superior animals.

“That means we’re breeding for traits in their conformations (like) good feet and legs, superior udder quality and other functional traits of a cow and what they look like because longevity is one of our focuses here,” Jessica told in June of 2021.

The Stepplers from Miami, Man. are Manitoba’s representatives in the national event.

Andre Steppler and his wife Katie run the cattle division of Steppler Farms, home to Canada’s second-largest active registered Charolais herd. The overall business is a diversified operation that includes grain and honey production. spoke with the Stepplers in March 2020 about winning the regional award and about successful changes they’ve made on the farm.

Representing Ontario in the national competition are Jenny Butcher and Wes Kuntz.

The pair own Little Brown Cow Dairy Farm in Brantford, Ont. where they milk, process and sell their dairy products on site. connected with Butcher in October 2021 to discuss winning the award and the next big project planned for the farm.

Geneviève Grossenbacher & James Thompson of Notre petit farm (our little farm) in Lochaber Partie Ouest, Que., will represent Quebec at the national COYF event next month.

Together they offer weekly and bi-weekly boxes of local organic vegetables to drop-off locations in the Gatineau and Ottawa area.

In 2018 they won the Young Farmer Award from Quebec’s ministry of agriculture.

And the regional winners from Atlantic Canada are Phillip and Katie Keddy.

The couple are partners in Charles Keddy Farms Ltd. in Woodville, N.S., where they produce nursery stock strawberry plants, sweet potatoes and raise a herd of 55 beef cattle.

The farm is the largest sweet potato producer east of Ontario, producing more than 1.5 million pounds annually.

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