Young Canadians are dynamic, engaged and passionate about the future of the agriculture and agri-food sector, and giving them a voice at the table is an important commitment of the Government of Canada.
As a consultative body to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council (CAYC) is a group of young Canadians providing advice, enabling on-going dialogue on food-related challenges and opportunities, sharing information and best practices, and advising on the strengths and weaknesses of policies and programs affecting the agriculture and agri-food sectors.
On July 24, 2020, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced the names of the 25 members chosen to sit at this table. They were selected from more than 800 applications received, representing a diverse mix of individuals from subsectors across the agriculture and agri-food sector, as well as from every province and the North. The Council is co-chaired by both a youth as well as a government representative.
The first youth co-chair, selected by his peers, is Jerry Bos.
If you have any questions or would like to connect with the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAYC members meet several times a year to discuss issues that matter to their peers, their community and their sector.
Highlights – Aug 12, 2021 (via video conference)
- The Canadian Agricultural Youth Council (CAYC) met on August 12th to celebrate its one-year anniversary on the United Nation’s International Youth Day. Youth delegates from various other agricultural organizations joined the meeting to celebrate with the CAYC.
- The Assistant Deputy Minister of AAFC’s Markets and Industry Services Branch praised the CAYC on its many impressive achievements over the past year and remarked on how they had helped the Department better understand the needs of current and future generations of food and farming professionals.
- Fawn Jackson, Director of Policy and International Affairs with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, provided a keynote address where she spoke about her personal and professional journey in agriculture, shared lessons learned, and discussed the importance of supporting youth leadership.
- CAYC members and youth delegates participated in a consultation on AAFC’s Next Policy Framework (NPF). Participants made numerous recommendations for the NPF, including but not limited to the need to:
- attract and support new and young farmers;
- increase funding for land acquisition, research and development, and grassroots organizations;
- make investments in rural infrastructure;
- leverage agriculture as a tool to fight climate change;
- support the adoption of on-farm technologies and sustainable practices;
- continue building public trust in the sector;
- address labour shortages;
- support a more diverse sector;
- expand availability of agricultural education in schools; support
- support more cross-industry collaboration;
- design BRM programs suited to diversified producers;
- collect consistent and informative data for improved decision making;
- and communicate more effectively about funding programs.
Highlights – July 20, 2021 (via video conference)
- Minister Bibeau led a discussion on the impact of climate change on agriculture, acknowledging the severe drought impacting producers in the Prairies and the work being done to respond to the evolving situation.
- CAYC members were eager to speak about the impact of climate change on young farmers, and shared feedback on AAFC’s Agricultural Climate Solutions and Agricultural Clean Technology Program. They highlighted the importance of supporting producers in their adoption of more environmentally sustainable practices.
- CAYC members noted that agriculture can be used as a tool to fight climate change and that this opportunity may draw more youth into the sector. CAYC members identified rural digital connectivity and farmer mental health as barriers to the adoption of sustainable farming practices.
Highlights: June 14, 2021 (via video conference)
- The Council observed a moment of silence to honour the memory of the Indigenous lives lost and those permanently changed as a result of Canada’s residential school system.
- AAFC’s Carla St. Croix led an introductory consultation on the Next Policy Framework (NPF), and members provided their related visions and priorities. These included:
- improving access to data to support informed and responsible on-farm decisions
- ensuring that policies and programming are inclusive of underrepresented groups
- facilitating knowledge transfer to young and new entrants
- offering financial support for farmers to access land and to adopt sustainable practices and technologies
- CAYC co-chair Jerry Bos presented a plan to consult and collaborate with members on a written submission to the UN Food Systems Summit.
- Ashley St. Hilaire of the Youth Council Secretariat, shared a summary of the results from a recent CAYC member experience survey. The results highlighted that members are enjoying their experience on the Council and that they would benefit from additional guidance on best practices for youth councils, and more opportunities for networking.
Highlights: March 8, 2021 (via video conference)
- Minister Bibeau participated with Council members in the #ChooseToChallenge campaign in celebration of Canada’s International Women’s Day, by raising their hands to show that they choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality.
- Council members provided an update to the Minister on the Council’s work to date, including outcomes of their second strategic planning session, the launch of their social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), and interactions with a number of external agriculture stakeholders to promote the work of the Council and to share a youth perspective on various initiatives of interest.
- Farm Credit Canada led an engaging discussion on services for youth and the next generation of agriculture, focusing on topics such as succession planning, sustainable agriculture, and talent acquisition in agriculture. Members provided feedback and ideas to FCC for future programming/services.
- CFIA provided an overview of the Agency’s role and mandate, and solicited input for its “Framing competitiveness and innovation for success” public consultation.
- The Council prepared for its third strategic planning session at the end of March 2021.
Highlights: November 6, 2020 (via video conference)
- At the invitation of Minister Bibeau, Murad Al-Katib, member of the Industry Strategy Council and chair of the Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table (AFEST) provided an overview of the Council’s work to date and shared insights on his expectations for the new AFEST.
- The Department asked for suggestions on ways to increase awareness and appreciation of the agriculture and food sector and its contribution to rural vitality. Members shared their ideas on how activities under the Food Policy for Canada could lead to greater pride and trust. Members agreed to provide further input following the meeting.
- Jerry Bos, youth co-chair of the CAYC, outlined avenues to establish a strategic work plan for the Council. A third meeting of the Council is expected in the new year.
Highlights: September 3, 2020 (via video conference)
- Council members and the Minister had a rich discussion, with awareness of the agriculture and agri-food sector across Canada being the overarching theme.
- Discussion continued on issues ranging from public trust, building consumer confidence, to breaking down the urban-rural divide. Council members noted the importance of knowledge transfer from research to producers/consumers, as well as educating and encouraging interest among Canada’s young people in agriculture-related careers.
- Other topics included: Adjusting to and mitigating climate change; Balancing economic viability with sustainability, stewardship and social responsibility; Focusing on Canada’s strengths (for example, robust regulations, research); and Capturing opportunities (such as developing new markets, mentorship for new farmers).
- News Release: Inaugural meeting of the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council – helping shape the future of agriculture and food
Members of the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council
I have a strong background in soil and environmental sciences and have spent much of my academic career considering the impacts climate change will bring to the Earth. I am a scholar in the Climate Smart Soils program at the University of Guelph which specifically seeks to train people who will help address the challenges that climate change will bring to the agricultural sector.
Jerry Bos (co-chair)
I have a unique perspective in that I combine both the traditional background commonly associated with agriculture (multi-generational, European ancestry) as well as a non-typical background having restarted a farm that had gone dormant prior to my return. I have also made the transition into the dairy industry rather than inheriting or succeeding a predecessor. This offers insight and perspective on how to bridge the past, present and future of agriculture.
As a francophone female scientist, I am passionate about merging the bridge between research and industry while also using the skills acquired through my various life experiences to solve complex problems.
B Pratyusha Chennupati
Having a unique skillset of engineering, sciences, and regulatory affairs background, I see opportunity in every challenge posed in agriculture. Working in a start-up and established ag-biotech company helped me think not just about the farm level practices but to have a strategy for a short- and long-term vision for markets beyond the farm.
Andrea De Roo
I am a farmer with work experience in the public and private sectors of the agriculture industry. I believe my diverse experiences can bring a unique perspective to challenges facing our generation in agriculture.
I am a female who brings experience in a multitude of areas of animal science, production and research in swine, poultry and dairy. Starting out in the industry can be difficult with its own set of challenges which I can speak for from a perspective of someone who has experienced these challenges.
As a relatively recent entrant to the agriculture industry, I believe my unique perspectives relate to generating awareness and excitement about the industry to attract new entrants, especially youth with no prior agriculture experience.
I’ve volunteered on small-scale organic farms in southern Ontario, spent two years on a large wheat-pea-canola farm operation in Saskatchewan during my MSc thesis, and worked with over 40 farmers across North & South America. During the last two years, I’ve been employed at PUR Projet. I hope to bring these different perspectives to the CAYC.
With a passion for research and animal welfare in the livestock sector, I will bring a unique perspective as a young female scientist in the poultry industry.
I have experiences in rural and urban Canada that have given me a unique understanding of how these two different communities think about and act on the dynamics of the food system.
As a business owner, I went through the start-up process and was confronted with various issues that the next generation of farmers can face.
I have been involved in significant parts of the value chain behind agricultural research in British Columbia at a federal level: from the administrative aspects of proposal development and communications to the technical aspects of research design and analysis. Beyond research, I have been involved in reporting regional climate impacts on agriculture and in consulting in integrated pest management. My diverse roles and experiences in the sector means that I can bring a multi-dimensional perspective to CAYC.
I am a female mixed animal veterinarian, a fourth generation farmer, and lived in a large city for 7 years. I can relate to the struggles that farmers may have but also provide a medical veterinary perspective to the many issues facing agriculture today. Furthermore, because of my encounters with the urban population, I hear concerns they may express about agriculture and can assist in their understanding.
Prince Edward Island
With shearing I get to travel and meet different farmers which gives me a window into all sorts of sheep production styles. Additionally, in studying agriculture I get to see many other sides of the industry from crops to other livestock and processing. This gives me an interesting perspective on the interconnectedness of agricultural disciplines.
As someone with no prior background in agriculture, I can highlight useful resources and bring up challenges experienced from that viewpoint. As a graduate student in agriculture, I can also speak to the needs and priorities from that perspective.
I farm on rented land and am familiar with access to land issues for beginning farmers. I’m also a member of three agricultural groups, in addition to the Agriculture Industry Advisory Committee, so I’m familiar with the agricultural activities and challenges facing farmers in the Yukon.
Having studied and worked in the agricultural and agri-food sector at the local (Quebec, Ontario), national (France) and international (Europe, Asia, Brazil) levels, I was able to understand both international and regional issues, their complexities, their complementarities and their divergences. This overview appears to me to be a force for developing solutions to the challenges of today and tomorrow, which the entire agricultural and agri-food sector is facing.
I was not directly exposed to the agricultural industry but instead became involved after exploring my passion for food. This demonstrates that there are opportunities for all Canadians to get involved and be inspired by the work being done in the sector, no matter their background.
I am an Algonquin man who studies traditional plant medicine, wild foods and permaculture.
The unique perspective I bring to the CAYC is developed from agricultural work experience in government, industry, and academia. Furthermore, I am bringing a perspective as the first agriculturalist in my family for several generations.
I'm a young immigrant with an urban background who faces the challenges of starting up a farm business, not having the generation before me to guide me prior to succession, and direct marketing on a small farm level. My focus of building a career around mental health is how I ended up in this position, and maintaining mental health happens to be an immense challenge in the busyness of the agricultural industry. This is one of the most important ways I connect with others in the agricultural industry and an area where I feel there is essential work to be done.
Sara Kate Smith
As someone who is just beginning their career, I think that I can bring insights into the experiences young people go through when trying to find their place in the industry. Additionally, through 4-H I have had many experiences working in youth-adult partnerships and understand the barriers that exist and ways to address them.
Newfoundland and Labrador
For two years, I worked with Agriculture in the Classroom NL – where I worked actively with a team to ensure that future and current Canadian consumers are informed and aware of how their food is produced. Now, I work with the producers daily and I hear first-hand the challenges that they face regarding the environment and climate change. I believe that both of these experiences make my perspective on Canadian agriculture rounded and unique.