The winner will be announced during the regional event this weekend
By Diego Flammini
Canada’s first Outstanding Young Farmers award winners for 2023 will be revealed this coming weekend.
The Manitoba Outstanding Young Farmer regional event takes place March 17 to 19 at the Elkhorn Resort at Riding Mountain National Park.
The award recognizes farmers between the ages of 18 and 39.
Two farm families are up for the award.
The first is Harley Siemens and his wife Brooklyn, chicken and egg farmers from Rosenort, Man. They raise 25,000 layers, 15,000 pullets and are invested in Manova, another Manitoba poultry operation.
Harley is also a director with Manitoba Egg Farmers.
“I was quite pleased to find out we were nominated,” Harley told Farms.com. “We’ve been doing lots of work to upgrade our farm and it’s nice to know you’re being recognized for the work you’re doing.”
Part of the upgrades include barn renovations.
The National Farm Animal Care Council’s code of practice for pullets and laying hens requires that “all hens must be housed in enriched cage of non-cage housing systems” by July 1, 2036.
After graduating from the University of Manitoba with an ag diploma and returning to the family farm, Siemens started to oversee the barn construction.
“We’ve converted a fair of our barns all over to free-run aviary housing,” he said. “We’ve renovated four barns in four years. “We’re allowing them to have more space to move around and engage in their natural behaviour. We’re getting the same production, but this is about better animal welfare, and that’s the kind of agriculture we want to be in.”
In addition to the on-farm work, Harley gives back to his community.
He’s been involved with the Canadian Young Farmers Forum and has given hundreds of virtual and in-person farm tours, for example.
It’s important for farmers to support their communities in order to keep the ag industry thriving, he says.
“I have three kids at home and I want to make sure I’m leaving a better industry for them and the next generation of farmers when it’s their turn to take over the farm,” he said. “The work we do now helps them reap the rewards in the future and allows them to farm for years to come.”
The other nominees are Brett and Chantel McRae from Brandon.
Together they own and operate McRae Land & Livestock, producing purebred Black and Red Angus cattle, as well as grain, grass seed and cover crops, the Outstanding Young Farmers website says.
The winner of the Manitoba event will represent the province in the national competition.
The national event is scheduled for November 22 to 26 in Quebec.