In the last ten years, the number of young farmers in Manitoba has grown to put our province in top spot for the largest number under 35 in the nation. Statistics show that 11.5 per cent of all farmers here are younger even though the average age continues to be older as time goes by.
Mark Ronald is 25 and operates his own egg farm, M Ronald Farming Company, while also working with his family business Ronald Farms.
"For myself, I've been going a few years with the family farm a bit on my own," says Ronald. "But as a young guy looking into the industry, if you don't come from a family of farmers, how do you ever get into the industry? When you look at things, equipment values, land values, how does a young guy ever get started today without help and a hand to get going at it? So, when you look at it, it can be a pretty inconvenient industry to get into in that sense."
He notes it isn't only farmers in the agricultural industry, noting a lot of support is involved as well.
"It's not closed off as though you have to be born into it, because there are other industry positions if you love being outside," adds Ronald.
He notes he runs the egg barn himself, a 3,500 laying hen operation, and helps with the 1,400 acres of the family farm.
Mark's father, Kelly Ronald, weighs in and notes farming is a great opportunity for a young person to get involved.
"I think if they even can come alongside and work along a farm that's already established, and maybe doesn't have family that could pass it on to, there's opportunity. Older farmers will look to pass on to other people, to help it continue on and to see their farm continue in the future."
Russell Pauls isn't actually financially involved in the farm with which he works but says he'll definitely continue in the work so long as he's financially able to. He notes that's a problem.
"The way the price of land is gone, especially in our area, it's so hard for guys to get started," notes Pauls. "It's pretty much impossible if you're not born into it. In order to get started, I don't think you can make a decent profit on a quarter anymore. Just farming a quarter of land isn't gonna cut it, just the way the price of land has gone up, the price of input, the price of fuel and the price of equipment. A quarter doesn't pay the bills like it used to."
He says without a decent land base to get started on and work your way into a farm that's already in existence, it's pretty much impossible.
"For me, it's about 50-50 right now," adds Pauls.
His advice for other young people is to start at the bottom.
"Find an operator that's looking for a hired hand, learn the ropes, kind of get familiar with it and if a chance comes up to buy in, or get financially involved in an operation, give it a try," says Pauls.
He says he doubts he will launch out on his own.
"If it works for me like to kind of step in the role of the operation that dad's already setup, then that's my only option," explains Pauls.
Nevertheless, the number is increasing for farmers under 35 years of age in Manitoba.Mark Ronald and Kelly Ronald