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Ontario Grain Farmer Magazine is the flagship publication of Grain Farmers of Ontario and a source of information for our province’s grain farmers. 

The leaders


CANADA’S FARMERS ARE AGING: according to the 2021 Census of Agriculture, the average age of farmers in Canada is 56 — representing 60.5 per cent of all farm operators in Canada.


But what about younger farmers? Thirty-five per cent of farmers are in the 35-54 year age group, with just 8.6 per cent under age 35.

However, as the older generation of farmers prepares to retire, more and more young people are preparing to take the reins: the census reports that the proportion of farms in Canada reporting a succession plan increased from 8.4 per cent in 2016 to 12 per cent in 2021, with farms classified as oilseed and grain farming accounted for the largest share (44.5 per cent) of farms reporting a succession plan in 2021.


Grain Farmers of Ontario prioritizes ensuring young farmers have a voice in the industry’s future. Programs that encourage young farmers to get involved, learn more about the industry, and gain leadership skills and experience — like Grains in Action, the Women’s Grain Symposium, and the American Soybean Association (ASA) Young Leader Program — are a top priority for the Grain Farmers of Ontario Board of Directors.

Current and past board members and delegates are alumni of those very programs, including Grain Farmers of Ontario’s chair and director of District 12 (Durham, Northumberland, Kawartha, Peterborough, Hastings), Jeff Harrison, who, along with his wife, Janie, was an ASA Young Leader in 2017.

“Through programs like the ASA Young Leaders and Grains in Action, we are giving young farmers the opportunity to find their voice, get involved, and make an impact.”

Harrison acknowledges that it’s not always easy for young farmers to participate in events, meetings, and leadership development programs; off-farm jobs, family commitments, and general “busyness” on the farm can all be deterrents.

“But it’s really important to have young people’s voices heard,” he says. “They are the future of our industry.”


Kristen Carberry, chair of District 12 (Durham, Northumberland, Kawartha, Peterborough, Hastings), knows all about being busy. Carberry farms near Campbellford in Northumberland County with her husband, Kyle and brother-in-law, Geoff, where they have 500 acres of cropland and a dairy herd. She is also the East-Central territory manager for Pioneer and, together with Kyle, a parent to Madison, age 3, and Rylee, age 4.

Prioritizing involvement in Grain Farmers of Ontario, she says, is a way to put her skills and knowledge to use and give back to the industry. Her Grain Farmers of Ontario leadership path began in District 11 (Dufferin, Simcoe, Halton, Peel, York) in 2018, where she and her husband farmed near Caledon. With a B.Sc. in agriculture from the University of Guelph and as a certified crop advisor (CCA) with resistance management specialty (RMS), she has put her industry knowledge and expertise to good use as a Grain Farmers of Ontario Research Committee member.

Since moving to Northumberland, Carberry says District 12 has been really welcoming, and she has enjoyed leading an active and engaged group of delegates as chair for the past three years.

“I just keep on a path of accepting new opportunities,” says Carberry of her leadership journey. And, she’s always looking to take on new challenges, like speaking on grower or research panels. “I’m always looking to refine my skill set and get some new experiences under my belt.”

Carberry encourages young farmers to get more involved in the organization, stressing that Grain Farmers of Ontario’s structure gives everyone the opportunity to have their voices heard, particularly as a delegate. “It’s just important to get out, and attend a meeting,” she says. “I know it’s hard to prioritize sometimes, with off-farm jobs and other commitments, but it’s important to be in the room.”

And with lots of organizations vying for young farmers’ time, she says, “…this one [Grain Farmers of Ontario], your voice is heard. This one is worth it.”

Join the conversation at to read more stories about young leaders in the grain and oilseed industry.


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