The Young Agrarians are hosting their first ever Central B.C mixer at Thompson Rivers University in WIlliams Lake this month. (Photo submitted)

COLUMNS: Young people and agriculture opportunities

Young people are the future of farming, David Zirnhelt says this week

Back in November, I gave readers in the area a “heads up” that the Young Agrarians of BC would be coming to Williams lake for one of the first “mixers” held between producers and would be young farmers across the Interior.

It is trite, I know, but true, that young people are the future of farming. We can get out of their way or we can help them. I think a supportive role by retiring farmers (mentorship) is one way to go, the best way perhaps.

Recently we heard from an agriculture student from a French University wanting to experience the culture of agriculture at our place. My feeling is that she deserves that opportunity.

The same goes for young agrarians and students from our own sustainable ranching program based in Williams Lake. Local farms and ranches can be hosts to students.

READ MORE: Eat less red meat, you say?

Also, there are certainly things we can learn from French farmers. It is the openness to learning that I think is one of the strengths of youth.

The Young Agrarians (of Canada) are promoting a kind of “self-help” for young farmers.

Their mixer is designed for young farmers to meet both each other and more senior experienced farmers and ranchers.

Most of them won’t have the financial resources to get into the scale that most ranches need to be able to pay a modest living for the owners or operators.

The topics to be addressed include: Land Matching and Transition; Direct Marketing, Butchering, Licensing and Regulations for Meat; Organic Soils; Communications and Conflict Resolution; Management Intensive Grazing and Holistic Management; Cost of Production and Financial Analysis; The role of Regional Applied Research (on farm research); University of Northern B.C.’s Approach to Agriculture, and more topics.

For more information you can go to youngagrarians.org and the mixer comes up on the top of the menu. Or you can call Robin at 1-604-767-4627. The cost to attend is $50 to $100 on a sliding scale of whatever you can afford.

Existing farmers and ranchers just might find someone to hire, to mentor, to partner with or to lease some land to.

One thing is sure: there will be no shortage of enthusiasm for the future of food and farming here in B.C. That will be worth the price of admission!

I am going and will share our story of transition and succession planning as it is unfolding. I will be accompanied by a family member of the next generation.

READ MORE: Thoughts of spring

One of my messages is going to be that respect for what the older generation has done on the ranch is essential to starting the dialogue about the future: and a recognition of the amazing contribution that children make when they are growing up on a farm.

Then there is the grieving that has to take place as we place our trust in our successors to care for the land.

The place that we have been working and playing on for half a century is part of the family and the thought of “losing” it, or leaving it brings on grief.

But “letting” go is something we all have to do sometime and the sooner the better for the continued success of the ranch.

At a minimum, we have to really share the decisions and the care for the land (and livestock if you have any).

Sharing the care of the land with family and young farmer is rewarding and helps heal the grief of letting go.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

Just Posted

Williams Lake minor fastball team brings home bronze

“As coaches we are so proud of the team’s successes.”

Photos: First Ribfest a hit with lakecity families

Hundreds of people came out for the first-ever Williams Lake Rib Festival

150 Mile Historic School House collecting local historical stories

Did you attend school at the little red shoolhouse or know someone who did?

CASUAL COUNTRY 2019: Chad Webb’s coaching career comes full circle with Williams Lake Blue Fins

“I’m lucky to be here and I plan on staying and coaching in the community.”

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

Most Read