Tanya Terpstra has been a pork farmer for about 25 years
By Diego Flammini
If Tanya Terpstra, a pork producer from Perth County, Ont., could send one message to young women looking at agriculture as a career path, that message would be to consider working in the hog sector.
The pork industry has multiple opportunities and provides flexibility, she said.
“For young women in particular, the pork industry gives you an opportunity for stability,” she said. “It has a diversified work schedule and it’s family friendly. My husband and I work as a team. We both work in the office and in the barn.”
Terpstra grew up on 100-acre farm with her parents who also did custom work.
In addition, both of her parents had off-farm jobs. This shaped the idea that a person must have off-farm income to support the farm business.
If she could go and talk to her 12-year-old self, she’d tell her that’s not the case.
“I assumed that because my parents both worked off-farm that the farm didn’t have (financial) security,” she said. “I went through school to get another degree thinking I’d have to supplement our farm income. I’d tell myself that you don’t have to worry, there’s opportunity (on the farm) for security. You can have a fulltime career in agriculture.”
But because her parents put the hard work they did, Terpstra views them as her ag inspirations.
Seeing how hard they work instilled her work ethic, she said.
“It was good for me to see that hard work and dedication because it taught me what hard work is all about. And now when we work on the farm, our kids see the work we do and they learn the value of hard work.”
Terpstra’s peer group is also a source of inspiration.
And that doesn’t just mean people older than she is. The next generation of farmers and ag professionals pushes her to do better.
“The younger people today coming into agriculture, in their 20s and 30s have a willingness, drive, determination and a confidence in agriculture I wish I had at that age,” she said. “I look at them and I see that agriculture has a strong future and it encourages me to continue on the path we’re on, knowing they’re going to improve upon it even more.”