Quebec’s outstanding young farmers named
By Top Crop Manager
Sept. 7, 2016 - Dominic Drapeau and Célia Neault of Drapeau & Bélanger Farm have been selected as Quebec’s Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) for 2016. The winners were announced at the CentreExpo Cogeco in Drummondville, QC, on September 2.
Dominic and Célia are third generation dairy and field crop farmers who are not afraid to make changes and embrace new technology. Their 625 cows are milked three times per day and the results speak for themselves; in ten years, the herd average has increased significantly from 8,295 litres per cow per year to 11,136 litres.
“The Quebec OYF region received three amazing nominations this year,” says Michel Robert, Regional Chair for Quebec OYF. “All of the finalists had exceptional accomplishments and performance and the judges were faced with a difficult decision, but ultimately Dominic and Célia stood out as this year’s Outstanding Young Farmers.”
Raised in a farming family, Dominic got involved in the family business at a young age. When he was 16, he was performing artificial insemination on cows and developed his management skills by taking over the herd and feeding responsibilities. He met Célia, an ambitious woman working in marketing at the time, and together they started their family now comprised of four children.
In the barn they use genomic testing on young animals, motion detectors for reproduction, a smart scale on the mixer-feeder and temperature probes close to calving. In the fields, the farm uses a satellite navigation system for leveling, draining, seeding, fertilizing and spraying. With these innovations over the last four years, they have enabled the farm to increase overall yields by five to 10 per cent each year.
Dominic and Célia’s passion for agriculture gives them energy and they plan on quadrupling the capacity of the current buildings over the next 20 years. This passion for agriculture is balanced with family time, which includes dancing, soccer, hockey and family gatherings. The fourth generation of Drapeau & Bélanger Farm will be welcome when the time comes.
Celebrating 36 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.
Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2016 will be chosen at the National Event in Niagara Falls, Ontario from Nov. 29 – Dec. 4, 2016.