Consumers will be happy to know that the family farm is very much alive in Canada and that most farms are Canadian owned, according to Catherin McCorquodale, a board member with The Canadian Association of Farm Advisors (CAFA).
According to McCorquodale, farming has become a more viable and less labour-intensive operation, which is helping to draw the next generation of sons and daughters to return home to run the operation. While her full-time job is working as a lawyer for a local Stratford legal firm, Catherine continues to also be actively involved in her family’s dairy operation near Embro, Ontario, as well as serving on the CAFA board of directors as Secretary. Many of her clients are farmers and reach out to her for legal advice or for referrals to other professional advisors.
Stratford is located in Perth County and it is one of the most productive farming regions in Ontario, according to the Stratford-Perth Centre for business. Perth County is know for mixed farming, dairy and hog production (see chart).
The younger generation of farmers are more involved at the community level, some connecting with the consumer through farm markets, market gardens and selling local products, the CAFA member said.
Others are developing niche markets by producing local cheese varieties, creating craft breweries or selling smaller yields of speciality products, led by consumer demand, according to McCorquodale.
To grow and thrive, farmers should try to be better at how they manage their business and knowing what resources are available to them. That is how the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors began, said Executive Director of CAFA, Liz Robertson. There was a need for a centralized association that could develop more in-person forums, and forums to help farm advisors to become more knowledgeable about farm practices.
CAFA members provide support to farm owners and agri-businesses looking for best options to operate and maintain their business. “Farming today is sophisticated and like any other business, it has human resource, marketing, legal, tax and financial issues. CAFA members are better able advice to farmers so they can make better choices,” Robertson said.