Yukon’s Minister responsible for Agriculture Ranj Pillai shared Yukon’s priorities at the annual meeting of Canada’s agriculture ministers on July 18 and 19 in Quebec City. The future of local agriculture, the priorities of young farmers and employment labour programs were among the agenda items.
The recently announced Food Policy for Canada was also on the agenda, with discussions focused on encouraging food sovereignty in remote communities in Yukon and across the North. The Food Policy for Canada includes a Northern Isolated Community Initiatives Fund to find innovative and practical solutions to increase food security across the North, together with other federal and northern partners.
A Young Farmers Panel discussion was held as part of the national meetings. Panelists shared their perspectives on current issues affecting young farmers, including: mental health, innovation and technology adoption, managing a farm business, consumer trends, young women in agriculture and sustainability in agriculture.
The Government of Yukon will continue to work with young Yukon farmers to support and find solutions to current and future challenges around education, land and funding opportunities.
It was encouraging to see the work in Quebec City to strengthen Canadian agriculture in all the jurisdictions of this country, with emphasis on the younger generation of farmers. Yukon’s work with the Government of Canada through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership is growing our capacity to produce local food and business opportunities for Yukoners. This meeting was a great opportunity to share the successes of Yukon’s increasingly diverse agriculture industry.
Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources Ranj Pillai
In 2018, the Government of Yukon and Government of Canada launched a suite of programs in a bilateral agreement under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. These programs provide funding for industry projects that further strengthen Yukon’s local food production. To date, Yukon has committed over $1.3 million to 173 agriculture projects throughout Yukon.
The recently announced Food Policy for Canada is a roadmap for a healthier and more sustainable food system for Canada. With an investment of over $134 million, the policy includes plans to improve access to healthy food for all people in Canada, including those in northern and isolated communities.
The Northern Isolated Community Initiatives Fund is intended to support community-led projects that reduce dependence on the southern food industry and associated costs for isolated communities. It is to be delivered by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency. The policy also includes a five-year, $50 million Local Food Infrastructure Fund designed to support community-led projects that improve access to safe, healthy and culturally diverse food.
2016 census statistics show that the number of farm operators under 35 rose in Canada, both as a share of total operators and in absolute numbers. This was the first increase since 1991.
The Yukon Young Farmers, in cooperation with the Yukon Agricultural Association, recently organized the First Annual Farm Fair, held July 6, 2019. Over 300 people attended the event, which provided an opportunity for farmers, producers and equipment dealers to celebrate and promote Yukon agriculture.
The Yukon Young Farmers group represents young farmers in Yukon. The group was founded in 2011 as a chapter of the Canadian Young Farmers Federation, and as a committee of the Yukon Agricultural Association.