A dairy farming couple from Vancouver Island and a pair of southeastern Quebec hog producers are Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2008.
The awards were presented Friday afternoon in Calgary to David and Lisa Taylor of Viewfield Farms at Courtenay, B.C., and to Lyne Groleau and Marco Couture of Porcherie Marigo at Saint-Remi-de-Tingwick, Que.
Operating in Canada since 1980, the national Outstanding Young Farmers program is designed to recognize young farmers (ages 18 to 39) who “exemplify excellence in their profession.” Two national honourees are chosen each year from seven regional honourees across Canada.
Honourees are judged during the national gathering based on progress made during their farming careers; maximum utilization of soil, water and energy conservation practices; crop and livestock production history; their financial and management practices; and their “contributions to the well-being of the community, province and nation.”
The Taylors, working with David Taylor’s father and brother, run a 300-animal Holstein herd on 180 acres about 220 km north of Victoria, in B.C.’s Comox Valley. Last year, according to the OYF organization, the farm earned the award for the highest quality milk on Vancouver Island.
David Taylor said the farm’s goal is Holstein Canada’s Master Breeder designation, achieved by less than five per cent of producers. He’s also a director of the B.C. Dairy Foundation and vice-president of the Vancouver Island Holstein Club.
The Taylors work with Ducks Unlimited on a project to feed wintering swans on their fields, and also host many farm tours.
Groleau and Couture, according to the OYF organization, developed a 250-sow operation they bought in 1992 about 100 km southeast of Trois-Rivieres into a “progressive, productive farrow-to-finish hog operation” which includes a pork processing plant (La Jambonniere, opened in 2004), retail business and “a drive for developing new and innovative local pork products.”
Groleau and Couture overhauled their operation to improve herd management and production efficiency and reach a production level of 27.4 piglets per sow. Their processing plant later expanded to supply cutting services for pork producers with emerging products in their region. They’ve also developed a distribution network for their own products.
Porcherie Marigo “truly embraces the value chain and the local food
movement,” said Richard Stamp, OYF president, when the couple was first chosen in September as Quebec’s Outstanding Young Farmers.
“It’s a progressive model that matches their productive hog operation with opportunities for local end product use. They have set a great example for other producers.”
OYF Canada’s five other 2008 regional finalists, who also attended the Calgary event and took part in its tours and other festivities include:
- cattle breeders Duane and Christie Movald of Breton, Alta.;
- grain and pedigreed seed growers Kris and Rhonda Mayerle of Tisdale, Sask.;
- cattle producers Jay and Angie Fox of Eddystone, Man.;
- beekeepers Chris and Christy Hiemstra of Aylmer, Ont.; and
- livestock and meat producers Wayne and Nicole Oulton of Windsor, N.S.