This year’s national winners for Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmer Program are Craig and Jinel Ference of Double F Farms in Kirriemuir, Alta., and brothers, Jordan and Alex McKay of Willow Tree Farms in Port Perry, Ont.
Seven regional farmers between 18 and 39 years of age competed at the 38th annual competition, which recognizes producers who exemplify excellence in their profession and contribution to agriculture.
The Ferences’ focus is to “work smarter and do more with less,” on their farm operation, which includes a 4,000 cow herd, 8,000 feedlot with 13,800 acres of crop and 41,000 acres of grazing, and a custom farming business.
Diversity is an important part of their operation and part of their succession planning.
Employees are key, and the couple have worked with the foreign worker program to secure qualified staff.
Willow Tree Farms is a vertically integrated farm focused on fresh local food.
They opened a 4,300 sq. foot retail year-round market complete with butcher shop and commercial kitchen in 2016.
Focused on sustainability, the 650 acre farm employs about 35 employees and produces 35 hand-picked crops, 65 sheep and 102 dairy cows.
The other regional finalists include:
• Tyler McNaughton and Sacha Bentall of Cutter Ranch, Fort Steele, B.C.
• Jordan and Jennifer Lindgren of Lindgren Farms, Norquay Sask.
• Brooks and Jen White of Borderland Agriculture, Pierson Man.
• Philippe Laurendeau and Kristina Roarke of L’Authentic Farm, Warwick Que.
• Robert Anderson and Jill Ebbett of Calvin D Anderson and Son Ltd., Glassville N.B.