The family will represent Manitoba in the national competition in December
By Diego Flammini
A family from Miami, Man. were named the province’s top young farmers during Manitoba’s Outstanding Young Farmers banquet in Brandon over the weekend.
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.
Receiving the recognition was an honour, Andre said.
“It was an awesome feeling to hear our names called,” he told Farms.com. “We’ve worked hard to make the farm as successful as we can, so to have that work recognized is really special. And to be there with some of the alumni who have won in the past was a really cool feeling too.”
After graduating from Lakeland College in 2004 with diploma in herd health, Andre returned to the family farm and started to implement changes that would help the business succeed.
“We went from 60 purebred cows up to 550 purebred cows,” he said. “We did a massive herd expansion. We also knew the way people wanted to buy their bulls was changing so we went to an annual sale.”
The family conducted private treaty bull sales until they made the switch.
The family also changed how they fed the cows.
“We used to (feed them) all hay land and stuff like that, but we switched over to a corn silage-based ration,” he said. “It ended up being a huge money saver for us but also opened up land that could be reused on the (3,200-acre) grain side.”
In addition to making changes on the farm, the Stepplers have also taken on an advocacy role.
They regularly appear at industry shows across the country to tell their story and encourage other producers to do the same.
Today’s communication channels allow for misinformation to be spread quickly. So, farmers must be ready to correct any misconceptions, Andre said.
“In the climate we’re in, people can share a false narrative of what agriculture is,” he said. “A farmer’s voice can connect with the general public and highlight how great agriculture is. If we don’t advocate now, our children and the next generation of farmers will have a hard time as more people get further away from the farm.”
The Stepplers will represent Manitoba at the national competition in Saskatchewan in December.
In February, Alberta’s Outstanding Young Farmers named Roelof and Mary van Benthem as its provincial representatives for the national event.