Bibeau announces youth council

Federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has named 25 young people to sit on her Canadian Agricultural Youth Council.

Members of the council are expected to offer suggestions on government priorities and identify problems and solutions for Bibeau.

“That was quite a challenge actually, because we received over 800 candidates,” Bibeau said, adding they wanted to have a diverse group.

Originally, the government was to announce the council months ago, but those plans were suspended following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members are expected to meet more often virtually than they normally would, with Bibeau noting it is easier and “less costly” to do so.

“Even more after COVID, I’m thinking about the vision for the ag sector. Obviously, I want it to be a sustainable ag vision, and I really look forward to having discussions with the youth on this,” she said, noting she hopes hear members’ thoughts on business risk management programs, labour, intergenerational transfers and mental health.

The Minister has several challenges ahead of her in the coming months, with reforms to business risk management topping the list.

Producer groups have long complained the current programs do not adequately support them.

News of the Council’s selection followed an announcement from Agriculture Canada that about 800 new positions are expected to be created in 2020-21 through the Youth Employment and Skills Program.

The program was enhanced in May to help young people find work during the pandemic and is now fully prescribed.

Ottawa put up $9.2 million to help the industry attract people between the ages of 15 to 30 and assist in addressing nagging labour shortages across the sector.

Eligible applicants to the program included producers, agri-businesses, industry associations, provincial and territorial governments as well as research facilities.

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