Sask. seeks advice from young farmer panel

Saskatchewan’s ag ministry plans to work with a new agriculture youth advisory committee to draft a strategy on attracting and retaining young people in farming.

The province on Wednesday named the new committee’s seven members, all active farmers between ages 18 and 35. The committee’s mandate will be to provide recommendations to Ag Minister Bob Bjornerud on “youth attraction and retention in the agriculture industry,” including agribusiness as well as farming and ranching.

“The formation of the committee comes at a time when the average age of farmers is steadily increasing,” the ministry said in a release. “There is an immediate need to ensure trained, talented youth are able to meet farming responsibilities as the older generation retires.”

“All of the members come from different areas of the province, and can provide input based on their own experiences, and those of other young people in their area,” Bjornerud said. “I think we’re going to see some really positive changes to agriculture recruitment and retention as this process unfolds.”

The youth advisory committee is to meet eight times per year for up to two years. Its members include:

  • April Nichol, chair, who with husband Chad operates a 2,000-acre grain farm near Qu’Appelle, about 60 km east of Regina, and has worked as a seed care specialist in southern Saskatchewan with Syngenta Crop Protection since 2006;
  • Daryl Frank, who operates a 4,300-acre grain farm south of Southey, about 55 km north of Regina, and who worked at Southey Farm Supply (1997-2002);
  • Max Halyk, who with wife Janelle operates a fourth-generation mixed farm of 350 cow/calf pairs and 4,000 acres of mixed farmland, west of Melville;
  • Jeff Prosko, who with his family operates a 9,000-acre farm near Rose Valley, about 115 km southeast of Melfort, producing canola, oats, barley and wheat and having diversified into alfalfa and some organic crops, as well as other ventures such as seed production and custom spraying, combining and trucking;
  • Landon Swityk, who with his father runs 100 purebred black Angus cow/calf pairs and about 1,200 acres of cropland, surrounded by the Northern Forest Reserve, about 50 km northwest of Spiritwood;
  • Derek Tallon, who with his father grows cereals, pulses and oilseeds on 6,500 acres and runs a custom spraying business near Lafleche, about 135 km southwest of Moose Jaw, and is also working toward a B.Sc. in agribusiness at the University of Saskatchewan; and
  • Colin Wilgenbusch, who with his father and brother runs 350 head of cattle and farms 3,000 acres near Halbrite, about 30 km southeast of Weyburn, and who also owned and ran a successful custom livestock-hauling business (1997-2003).

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