Sask. farm welcomes back fourth generation

On the Farm: Terry Youzwa has sat on a variety of boards over the years and his son is following in his footsteps

Saskatchewan farmer Terry Youzwa has never been the type of person to sit on the sidelines and criticize.

“If you’ve got something to contribute, stick up your hand and get involved,” says Youzwa, who grows cereals and oilseeds on a medium-sized farm near Nipawin, Sask.

“There aren’t enough people willing to step up. We need more people to get involved in order to help our communities to continue to prosper and grow.”

The Youzwa family has been farming in the Nipawin area, about 300 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, for more than 70 years.

Youzwa’s grandfather, John P. Youzwa, moved to the area in 1946 from Wakaw, Sask., about 200 kilometers southwest.

Youzwa’s father, Victor, eventually took over the farm from John, and Youzwa took over from Victor.

Youzwa’s son, Zak, has recently given up his aircraft maintenance engineering ticket to come back to the farm and become a fourth generation producer.

The land around Nipawin is productive and flat, part of Saskatchewan’s grey-wooded soil zone.

The area typically receives more snow cover than most other parts of the province, meaning seeding is typically a bit later than in many other areas.

Over the past few years, some grain and oilseed producers in the area have struggled with excessive moisture.

This year, however, the water table is lower, meaning more growers are able to work through low spots and wet-challenged areas.

Seeding conditions on Youzwa’s farm were very good this spring, although soil temperatures took time to warm up.

The farm received 57 millimetres of spring rain as of June 18 and fields throughout the region look good. However, development of some crops has been delayed due to cool temperatures. Canola crops are not as uniform as usual.

The Youzwas grow a variety of crops, including some that are common among growers in northeastern Saskatchewan — wheat, oats, peas and canola — and others that are not so well known, such as canaryseed and fababeans.

Barley and flax used to be part of the rotation, but Youzwa has steered clear of those crops for several years.

“Barley and oats are both higher volume crops and growing malt is always challenging,” Youzwa says.

“You never know you have it until you get paid so we decided to go in a direction where we’re only growing one high-volume crop.”

“Certainly there’s an opportunity to grow some malt barley in this area … but there’s also more pressure at harvest time… to ensure you crop comes off with the appropriate quality. Even a single rain can really put that at risk.”

Youzwa, who holds a degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Saskatchewan, has been managing Youzwa Farms Inc., since the early 1980s.

Between 1990 and 2007, he served as director and vice-chair of United Grain Growers and Agricore United.

He was part of the UGG board when the farmer-directed grain company become a publicly traded entity on the TSX exchange in 1993.

He was also a member of the Agricore board when it went public.

Agricore was eventually taken over by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, which later became Viterra.

Youzwa has also served as director on numerous agricultural boards and commissions including the Canola Council of Canada, the Flax Council of Canada, the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission (SaskCanola), and most recently, Cereals Canada.

Between 2014 and 2017, he took part in international trade missions to China, North Africa and Europe, representing Canada’s oilseed and cereal grains sectors.

He currently serves as a councillor for the Resort Village of Tobin Lake, a seat he will hold until July 2020, and ran unsuccessfully for the Saskatchewan Party nomination for the constituency of Carrot River Valley.

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