The Manitoulin Youth Agriculture Association starts with eight members
By Diego Flammini
A group of young farmers are the faces behind the newest Ontario ag association.
Eight farmers in their 20s created the Manitoulin Youth Agriculture Association (MYAA).
Some of the members got the idea for the group from activities at school, said Andrew Vokes, a 23-year old farmer and president of the association.
“I had just graduated from the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus and there were all these types of clubs, like the dairy club, and the soil and crop club,” he told Farms.com today. “Those clubs provided great hands-on experiences to learn about things you might not see in school and to meet other people that are interested in the same things you are.”
Calls have already been coming in from other potential members, Vokes added.
The MYAA is designed to help bridge the gap between the current and next generation of farmers.
The average Canadian farmer is 55 years of age, the 2016 Census of Agriculture says.
The association is open to anyone between the ages of 16 and 40 to join together farmers with diverse levels of experience. The industry “needs more young farmers,” Vokes said.
The group also hopes to include members without a background in farming.
With the number of career opportunities in the industry and a consumer focus on how food is produced, joining the MYAA can be a good resource to have questions answered.
“I want this association to be open to anyone who is considering agriculture as a career and may not be in it now,” he said. “If we can get someone who isn’t a farmer to become a farmer, I think that would be a great thing for the industry.”
Despite only having one official meeting under its belt, the MYAA is busy coming up with plans for its first farm tours, fundraising events and speaker appearances.
A majority of the farms in the Manitoulin region are beef farms, OMAFRA says, and the group is hoping to attract speakers that reflect the local industry.
“We’re talking about having speakers who are very knowledgeable about pasture maintenance or even fencing,” Vokes said. “We’re also in the process of planning an August farm tour in Bruce County and some sort of fundraising event.”
Joining the Manitoulin Youth Agriculture Association requires a $40 annual membership fee. That fee could be reduced as more people join, Vokes said.
Anyone interested in joining the association can send an email to email@example.com.
Adam Vokes, third from right, and the remainder of the membership of the Manitoulin Youth Agriculture Association.
Manitoulin Expositor photo.