The mandate of the first cohort of the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council came to an end Tuesday with a final, virtual meeting with the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. This group of 21 young Canadians aged 30-and-under represent a diverse mix of individuals from subsectors across agriculture and agri-food, as well as from every province and the North.
Under the chairmanship of Jerry Bos, a dairy farmer from New Brunswick, Council members met regularly to provide advice on food-related challenges and opportunities, as well as to share information and best practices. Their work ensured the perspectives of youth in agriculture were well-understood. The Council’s mandate – written by the members themselves – included promoting agricultural career development, awareness and education, and climate change mitigation.
A cornerstone of their mandate included providing input on their vision for AAFC’s Next Agricultural Policy Framework. The Framework will set the course for the sector past 2028, and youth feedback on both current and potential challenges and opportunities facing the sector was (and continues to be) sought.
Council members also acted as a sounding board for the design of AAFC’s AgriCommunication program, advising on concrete ways for the program to build public trust and consumer confidence and to raise awareness of the many sustainable food and farming practices in Canada. They also shared ideas on making Canada’s agricultural and agri-food sector more competitive, and on how to transfer knowledge between generations as well as from producers to consumers.
As part of the Government of Canada’s goal to work towards a creating a more sustainable global food system, various members of the Council helped deliver a Canadian youth perspective in other fora, including AAFC’s Sector Engagement Tables and at various United Nations’ Food System Summit and FAO Dialogues. This provided them with the opportunity to speak to the importance of supporting youth in food and farming, as well as inform Canada’s position on youth in agriculture and agri-food.
An announcement on the 15 successful applicants to the second cohort of the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council is expected in the coming weeks. The second cohort will be made up these new members as well as some returning members. Together, they will unite a cross section of Canadian youth passionate for food and farming, mirroring Canada’s regional and demographic diversity. They will serve on the Council for an 18-month term.
Young Canadians are dynamic, engaged and passionate about the future of the agriculture and agri-food sector. By providing a forum for the next generation to bring forward innovative and fresh ideas, Canadian youth are able to play an active role in the decisions that will shape their future.