The Canadian Agricultural Youth Council

 

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 August 10, 2022, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced the names of the 25 members of the second cohort of the CAYC chosen to sit at this table. They represent a diverse mix of individuals from subsectors across the agriculture and agri-food sector, with broad regional representation from across Canada.

The CAYC's current Youth Co-Chair, elected by council members, is Alanna Coneybeare.

If you have any questions or would like to connect with the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council, please send an e-mail to aafc.youthcouncil-conseildelajeunesse.aac@agr.gc.ca.

Meetings

CAYC members meet several times a year to discuss issues that matter to their peers, their community and their sector.

  • Highlights: August 24 and 25, 2022 (In-person and via video conference)

    • The Canadian Agricultural Youth Council met for the first time in-person, in Montreal, Quebec.
    • The 2-day, hybrid meeting brought together members from the second cohort along with alumni from the first cohort, in-person and virtually, to review working group initiatives, to discuss the council’s future strategic direction, and to share ideas for how members can make the most of their time on the Council.
    • Adriana Zeleney, Director of the Industry Engagement Division, gave an overview of the department and explained the Youth Council’s important role in shaping policies and programs at AAFC.
    • Hubertus Gay of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Secretariat presented an overview on how OECD member countries collaborate and prepare for the upcoming OECD Agricultural Ministerial meeting in November, 2022. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, Marie Claude Bibeau, will Co-Chair the Ministerial, where global leaders will come together to discuss key priorities such as ensuring global food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods and the health of all people, addressing climate change challenges and strengthening sustainability, supporting skills development, and seizing opportunities for inclusive agriculture.
    • Claire Mullen, Director of AAFC's Climate Policy and Partnerships Division, presented an overview of the Department's forthcoming consultation on the Green Agriculture Plan.
    • Minister Bibeau led a discussion with members on the importance of youth engagement in the sector and discussed her mandate letter priorities including the development of an Agricultural Labour Strategy, Green Agriculture Plan, and a National School Food Program.
    • Youth Council members also had a chance to visit La Centrale Agricole in Quebec, an urban agriculture and agri-food cooperative and innovation incubator.
  • Highlights: June 28, 2022 (via video conference)

    • During the final meeting of Cohort 1, Minister Bibeau led a conversation with members on their achievements and key takeaways as the first ever Canadian Agricultural Youth Council.
    • Minister Bibeau expressed her gratitude for the Council’s work, thanking members for their impressive impact and all that they have accomplished in their 2-year term.
    • Working group leads discussed the progress made, lessons learned, and gave direction to Cohort 2.
    • Members reflected on their decision to return or depart from the Council and discussed how they benefited from their time on the Council.
    • Emily Silk, Director of the Labour and Market Efficiency Policy Division at AAFC, gave an overview of the Agricultural Labour Strategy that is currently in development and sought member perspectives to inform the strategy.
  • Highlights: May 11, 2022 (via video conference)

    • Farm Credit Canada representatives provided an overview of the products and services that they offer to young borrowers, highlighting some key changes coming to their Next Generation suite of products.
    • Michael Hoffort, President and Chief Executive Officer of Farm Credit Canada, shared inspiring career and leadership philosophies with Council members.
    • AAFC provided an update on Stream 1 of the AgriCommunication Initiative, which is currently underway, and sought recommendations from the Council on Stream 2, which focuses on consumer expectations and behaviours, and collaboration with the sector to address sustainability.
    • AAFC Co-Chair Denis Bégin discussed deadlines for submitting feedback to the Next Policy Framework and provided an update on the recruitment of the second cohort of members.
  • Highlights: March 29, 2022 (via video conference)

    • The Youth Council co-chairs reflected on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its impacts on global food systems, and the need for Canada to support refugees.
    • AAFC consulted CAYC members on the outcomes of AAFC’s Next Policy Framework (NPF). Members made numerous recommendations for the NPF, including but not limited to, the need to: make programs more accessible; strengthen relations with Indigenous Peoples; make investments in rural infrastructure; support the adoption of on-farm technologies and sustainable practices; design BRM programs suited to diversified producers; continue building public trust and improving agricultural literacy; support a more diverse sector; learn from sector leaders in other countries; communicate more effectively about funding programs; report on results of funding applications; set key performance indicators to measure outcomes in priority areas; and ensure flexibility and adaptability of programs to stay relevant over the course of the Framework.
    • Co-Chair Jerry Bos invited members to collaborate on a letter summarizing recommendations for AAFC and provincial governments regarding the importance of supporting agricultural education in schools.
    • Co-chair Denis Bégin updated members on the status of the recruitment of the second cohort of the Council.
  • Highlights: January 25, 2022 (via video conference)

    • Tom Rosser, Assistant Deputy Minister at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, discussed Minister Bibeau's Mandate Letter and the Guelph Statement with Council members.
    • The Council provided feedback on key priorities including labour strategies and the National School Food Program.
    • AAFC presented the AgriCommunication Initiative marketing approach to the Council for their feedback and suggestions.
    • The Department provided a brief update on the development of the Next Policy Framework. The Council highlighted additional priority and opportunity areas.
  • Highlights: December 7 and 8, 2021 (via video conference)

    • The December meeting of the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council was held in two separate sessions to accommodate members' schedules. It was the first official activity of the Council post-election.
    • Youth Council members shared recent personal and professional achievements during a member roundtable.
    • A representative from each of the three working groups presented a progress update on their initiatives.
    • The AAFC Youth Secretariat shared how they are supporting a positive Youth Council experience by, for example, developing a member website, organizing development opportunities, and consulting on the transition to the next cohort in July 2022.
    • AAFC presented the new Canadian AgriCommunication Initiative. Members gave their support for the initiative, commenting on the importance of allowing the industry to promote its many existing sustainable practices.
  • Highlights: August 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

Jacob Aarts

British Columbia

Jacob Aarts

I am a committed, third-generation dairy farmer with a distinctive perspective. After working as a helicopter pilot in the Northwest Territories, and overseas in agriculture, I chose to return to my passion – my family's dairy and poultry farms. I have varied experience farming in British Columbia's arid inland region and wet coastal regions and believe my diverse, hands-on experiences in both the private sector and agriculture will be beneficial in addressing challenges and ensuring a healthy agriculture industry for future generations.

Menilek Beyene

Ontario

I am an environmental biology graduate student researching plant ecology, forest restoration, and thinking about ways to improve access to food, availability of resources, and the sustainable enjoyment of nature. One of my areas of interest focuses on connecting the movements of environmental conservation, agricultural reform, and food sovereignty by communicating their shared issues through multimedia. With the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council, I will bring my perspectives to bear to address these challenges in the Canadian food system. In my spare time I volunteer on small scale farms, tend to my backyard garden, and enjoy local cuisines.

Emily Bland

Newfoundland and Labrador

I am a social entrepreneur with an agricultural heart. I am a third-generation farmer from rural NL and am the Seed-EO of SucSeed; a hydroponic social-enterprise that is on a mission to help the world grow. SucSeed has gardens in +1,000 schools educating +25,000 students annually, +2,000 homes and +200 community groups. I was awarded Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs' Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and SucSeed was named the top Social Enterprise in Atlantic Canada. I was a founding board member of the Centre for Social Enterprise at Memorial University of Newfoundland, I sit on the board of the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship and the Empowering Indigenous Women's Organization. I am a Director of Smiling Land Farm where I am helping lead the development of a 400-acre organic farm.

Vicki Brisson

Ontario

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. I am the founder of the Eastern Ontario Women in Agriculture Network, and a proponent of agricultural education and consumer awareness.

B. Pratyusha Chennupati

Alberta

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 also about having a strategy for a short- and long-term vision for markets beyond the farm.

Alanna Coneybeare (co-chair)

Ontario

Alanna Coneybeare

I have been very fortunate to have a wonderful breadth of experiences resulting from studying and working in both urban and rural Ontario. I have been farming full time on my family's dairy, poultry and cash crop farm for the last 6 years. Since coming home from university, I have become a mental health advocate and am constantly exploring how solutions to environmental, social and other issues can be achieved through changes in food systems.

Andrea De Roo

Saskatchewan

Andrea De Roo

I am a mixed grain and cattle farmer and an agronomist with work experience in both the public and private sectors of the agriculture industry. I believe my diverse experiences across the Prairies brings a unique perspective to challenges facing our generation in agriculture.

Cyndelle Gagnon

Quebec

Cyndelle Gagnon

As a bachelor's student in agronomy at Laval University, I am committed to being the voice of young agricultural professionals, and to proudly represent the values of my Gaspé region. My academic career has been indelibly marked by involvement in student associations, which has forged my character and ability to conduct consultations, determine and successfully carry out relevant mandates and represent members. My favourite areas of interest include horticulture, particularly ornamental horticulture, as well as entomology, sustainable development and agricultural policies.

I believe that the challenge lies in realizing all the aspirations that young people have for the future of agriculture in Canada, and it is important for me to put my shoulder to the wheel to achieve this!

Chantele Gouliquer

Manitoba

I am an indigenous 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. I am also a proponent of agricultural education and consumer trust, with experience in the animal nutrition, meat production and processing value chain.

Paul Hrycyk

Ontario

I work with farmers and corporate partners to transition agricultural systems and supply chains to meet regenerative agriculture principles. I have led the development of new projects on 3 continents, working with over 350 producers and cooperatives in diversified crops and commodities. With an M.Sc. in Soil Science, I apply my science background to field operations and I've designed and implemented monitoring and evaluation protocols for PUR Projet's global regenerative agriculture project portfolio. I am passionate about building strong working relationships with a diversity of stakeholders, including producers, investors, and policy makers.

Elizabeth Jeffs

British Columbia

Elizabeth Jeffs

Growing up on my family's farm, I have had a lifelong passion for agriculture. I am a recent graduate from the faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia, where I studied Applied Plant and Soil Science. I currently work as an IPM consultant, and continue to help on my family's farm. I believe that my wide variety of experiences will offer a unique perspective as part of the CAYC.

Sameeha Jhetam

Saskatchewan

I have an M.Sc. in Animal Science and am currently pursuing my PhD in the Poultry Management and Welfare lab at the University of Saskatchewan. My research is assessing hatchery and transport related wellbeing of leghorn chicks. My career has focused on poultry research and studying various management practices to improve the welfare of turkeys and layer chicks. I have a passion for teaching, agriculture education, and building public trust in the industry. I am also a member of AAFC Animal Protein Table, a sector engagement table between animal protein sector representatives and the government.

Samuel Lanctôt

Quebec

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.

Thomas-Louis Lavallée

Quebec

Thomas-Louis Lavallée

After growing up in Quebec's agricultural community, agriculture has always been a prominent part of my life. Beyond the family legacy, it has become a passion and a career mainly in the areas of business management, agroeconomics, and crop and animal production. My background can be summarized as follows; I had technical training in agricultural business management and technologies, earned a bachelor's degree in agroeconomics, and am currently studying for my master's degree in business administration – Entrepreneurship and SME Management. I am currently an agricultural account manager at National Bank, owner of a horticultural centre and very involved in the Canadian agricultural community.

Erin McCardle

Prince Edward Island

Erin McCardle

I am a recent graduate from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Agriculture Science. Currently my work involves addressing labour and human resource needs of island farmers and working to educate the public on the agri-food sector. My involvement in my families mixed berry farm continues annually over the summer months.

Kallum McDonald

Alberta

Kallum McDonald

I come from a fifth-generation buffalo and grain farm (primarily canola and wheat) in Northern Alberta. I am finishing my graduate studies program at the University of Alberta in Plant Biology. My academic and private sector research experience consists of plant genetic engineering, canola breeding, and corn breeding funded by an NSERC research award. I am proud to volunteer for my local MLA, the City of Edmonton noxious weed control program, and some of my labour union committees. I look forward to bringing a climate change-oriented and LGBT+ point of view to the council.

William McManiman

Quebec

William McManiman

Born on a family dairy farm in Saint-Ambroise-de-Kildare, I am now a proud dairy farmer and agrologist. Curious by nature, this led me to work in agriculture in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. Holder of a bachelor's degree in agronomy with a specialization in animal sciences, a certificate in consumer sciences and a certificate in business administration, I hope to contribute an interesting and complementary perspective while learning more about the realities elsewhere in Canada.

Josiah Mullet Koop

Ontario

Josiah Mullet Koop

As a sixth-generation Ontario farmer and Poultry Science Master's student at the University of Guelph, I have significant experience in agriculture from both an academic and practical standpoint. I hope to use my perspective to help position the Canadian agriculture industry for success for generations to come!

Boma N-Chris

Manitoba

Boma N-Chris

As an immigrant and the first agriculturalist in my generation, I have experienced unique wins, losses and expectations in different areas of agriculture and I bring that perspective and experience to the CAYC. I have a passion for eliminating food insecurity in the world and providing real nutritious foods for the growing population. As a recent agronomy graduate, and currently in the sales and marketing agricultural technology sector, I am committed to learning about the innovative agriculture technology solutions to improve soil health and end food insecurity.

Lauren Peters Withrow

Nova Scotia

I have both worked and volunteered within the agricultural industry for over a decade. Although I did not grow up on a farm, I found a love and passion for this industry at a young age. I've been involved in the industry in many ways, from working on an egg farm, being a busy 4-H member, and then going on to pursue an education in the field of agriculture. I graduated from Dalhousie University's Faculty of Agriculture's one-of-a-kind International Food Business dual-degree program, and I now work for the Faculty. As the Community Education Manager, I lead the efforts to raise the profile of agriculture in schools and communities in the region. I also sit on the Nova Scotia Youth Council for Agriculture as the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council Representative.

Colby Robertson

Alberta

I am a professional in the potato sector, with experience across government research, private industry, and academic pursuits. My career has evolved over time, and I currently work to scale up production of unique types of potatoes across North America. My career evolution has fostered my interest in helping to shape the future of Canadian agriculture as it relates to youth employment and professional growth.

Hannah Kaya Sideris Hersh

Quebec

Hannah Kaya Sideris Hersh

I am a new farm worker with experience at different nodes in the food system, including a solidarity cooperative cafe, community gardens, university food systems policy, and now organic small-scale farming. As co-chair of the National Farmers Union (NFU) Farm Worker Working Group, I am intimately connected to the grievances, strategies, and hopes of farm workers. I bring my perspective as someone entering farming without formal agricultural education or a family history of growing. I am involved with queer farmer networks, as well as environmental and social justice organizing. I live and work on unceded Algonquin territory.

David Simmonds

New Brunswick

David Simmonds

The world of agriculture is transforming. Remote sensing, machine learning, cloud computing and statistical modeling are driving critical insights for decision making. My passion is to help bring these technologies together. I'm born and raised in New Brunswick,with a formal education in Forestry from UNB. I've worked in precision agriculture for over six years. An exciting acquisition by McCain Foods landed me on McCain's Earth Observation team. As part of a newly formed business unit, I manage projects for a great team of like-minded innovators. Together we develop new insights to empower decision makers in agriculture.

Sara Kate Smith

British Columbia

I hope to bring insights into the experiences young people go through when trying to find their place in the industry. My time in 4-H and post-grad experiences have shown me the value of mentorship. I believe that mentorship is one of those key solutions to supporting new entrants in agriculture. I am proud to represent CAYC on AAFC's Skills Development Sector Engagement Table, and I look forward to continuing to work on youth-led solutions for engagement and industry succession preparation.