While the average age of an Ontario farm operator is 55 years old, multiple generations may work on the farm. Understanding the demographics of farmers in more detail will help target programming and services by:
- Whether they have off-farm income (e.g. time of day programs are scheduled)
- Whether they have children (e.g. availability of child care)
- Business interests (e.g. on-farm diversification, specialty crops, online retailing)
Agriculture and food incubators/food hubs are cropping up across Ontario to support agri-food entrepreneurs and fill infrastructure gaps for cold storage, processing, distribution, and mentorship opportunities. The Ontario government should recognize the value that these facilities bring to the agri-food sector to support innovation and entrepreneurship, and it should be promoted to new and beginning farmers.
Many agri-food career opportunities exist, but they are not limited to only graduates with agricultural degrees. Ontario needs a skilled workforce – tradespeople, students educated in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, culinary expertise, and other fields not typically associated with agriculture. Ontario needs a concerted effort to promote the agri-food sector within other fields of study, and increase recognition of the high-skilled, well-paying careers in the agri-food sector.
Succession planning can involve the transfer of knowledge, skills, labour, management, control or ownership of the farm business. It can be tough for any farm family to sit down and start a discussion about succession planning and transitioning the family farm. Each family farm business is unique, and no single approach works for everyone.
OFA is working to help members start the difficult conversation through a partnership with Farm Life, beginning with a complimentary consultation. Farm Life brings farm families together to have courageous conversations about the future of their farm and works with families to build continuity through succession, transition and tax efficient estate plans. OFA’s partnership with Farm Life offers members access to preferred rates on succession planning services that will assist farmers in building a plan that protects both the family harmony and the legacy of the farm.
OFA believes that new and beginning farmers should have access to programming that assists them in operating a successful farm business. Business Risk Management (BRM) programs have been designed to enable beginning farmers to take advantage of these programs.