Stress, anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion and burnout are all higher among farmers than among other groups, early findings of the survey show.As well, Canadian farmers are more stressed than those living and working elsewhere.
Professor Andria Jones-Bitton, a professor in the Department of Population Medicine, analyzed more than 1,100 responses nationwide to an online stress and resilience survey, conducted on agricultural producers from September 2015 to this past January.
“Some of the producer comments leave little doubt about the impact their job and culture is having on them,” Jones-Bitton says. “One said, ‘We are not invincible, but we feel we must be’. Another said, ‘What makes me the most upset is that I have everything I dreamed of – love, family and a farm – and all I feel is overwhelmed, out of control and sad.’"
The survey found 45 per cent of survey respondents had high stress. Another 58 per cent were classified with varying levels of anxiety, and 35 per cent with depression.
Overall, that’s two to four times higher than farmers studied in the United Kingdom and Norway, Jones-Bitton said.
Other signs of mental health problems revealed by the survey are equally concerning, she added.For example, significant numbers of farmers had high levels of emotional exhaustion (38 per cent) and cynicism (43 per cent).And resilience, popularly believed to be a strength among producers, is lower among two-thirds of the respondents than it is among a comparative U.S. population.
Indeed, in agriculture, a stigma is associated with mental health treatment, Jones-Bitton says.
So it follows that the survey showed 40 per cent of respondents said they’d feel uneasy getting professional help “because of what people might think.”
Another 31 per cent said seeking professional help could stigmatize a person’s life. Fewer than half believe there is adequate mental health support from the industry.
At the same time, more than three-quarters of those surveyed said professional mental services can be helpful in times of struggle, and almost as many said they would seek out such help.
Jones-Bitton sees that as good news. She is building a team of producers, industry representatives, veterinarians and mental health professionals to create, deliver and evaluate a mental health literacy training program for farmers.
This program would train people to recognize and respond to mental distress, and reduce stigma around mental health issues in Ontario’s agricultural sector.“We need to do something,” she says. “Farmers want help, and we’re going to find ways for them to receive it.”
Jones-Bitton and the Ontario Veterinary College AWAR2E group – an acronym for Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Research and Education — started out studying mental health among veterinarians. The scope grew as it became clear producers also had issues.
The internationally acclaimed Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) will supply Ontario fruit and vegetable growers experiencing domestic labour shortages with approximately 17,000 seasonal workers from Mexico and the Caribbean this growing season.
“For five decades this program has provided Ontario farmers a steady source of reliable labour as a supplement to local labour,” said Ken Forth, President of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (F.AR.M.S.), which administers the program. “Without it, many of these growers simply couldn’t stay in business and that would destroy an industry that’s crucial to our economy.”
A severe shortage of domestic workers is costing Canadian farms approximately $1.5 billion per year and hurting Canada’s overall economic competitiveness, according to recent labour market research by the Conference Board of Canada.
The labour shortage is projected to grow dramatically over the next decade — nearly doubling to 114,000 workers needed by 2025, compared to demand for 59,000 workers today, according to the Conference Board of Canada study.
But farmers aren’t the only ones affected by the shortage. In some cases, unfilled jobs at Canadian food processing plants mean food produced in Canada has to be processed in the U.S. or Mexico and then imported back into Canada, raising the cost for consumers. The labour shortage also threatens to affect food security and safety for Canadian consumers, as well as the export potential of Canada’s entire agri-food industry.
“If we don’t have enough workers to grow and harvest these crops, this industry just won’t be here,” said Forth. “We need programs like SAWP to keep our farms running and keep this industry successful.”
Because SAWP is a “Canadians first” program, supplementary seasonal farm labour is hired from partner countries only if agricultural operators cannot find domestic workers to fill vacancies.
The economic success of individual farmers benefits Ontario’s overall economy. It’s estimated that at least two jobs for Canadians are created in the agri-food industry for every seasonal worker employed through SAWP at Ontario farms.
Recent labour market research by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council cited SAWP as a key reason Ontario’s horticulture industry is able to generate $5.4 billion in economic activity and approximately 34,280 jobs.
At the same time, the program provides approximately seasonal workers well-paying employment, benefits and educational opportunities not available at home.
“From another perspective, there are 17,000 SAWP workers in Ontario and 30,000 nation-wide who rely on this opportunity to enhance their lives by giving themselves a better lifestyle and educating their children at the university level,” Forth said. “Assuming each worker directly affects five in his or her family, that’s 150,000 people whose lives are enriched by SAWP.”
More information about Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) can be found at www.farmsontario.ca
June 17, 2016 - World Ag Day was officially in the Canadian capital of Ottawa on June 11, 2016. The historic event is designed to celebrate humankind's most important activity: agriculture. The industry is crucial to each of the seven billion humans on the planet — it allows us to fill our plates every day.
Bringing people together
"Through the initiative of the AGyours Group, we are seeking to reconnect people with the earth and to give them a feeling of belonging to the most crucial of all human activities," says Leonard Pigeon, co-founder of World Agriculture Day. "Our slogan is Agriculture belongs to YOU [because] agriculture is everybody's business, not just agricultural farmers earning a living, but also for consumers."
People are concerned about where their food comes from. Meanwhile the plate of young people stops at grocery stores. We are drowning in a sea of misinformation. It is essential for people to have access to accurate information and for younger generations to receive the reassurance they need. We should place our trust in the farming experts who hold real knowledge of agriculture.
Virtual piece of farmland, backed by research
Food-based prevention! This concept lies at the very origin of food, namely agriculture. So let us support our agriculture. A purposeful activity based on science and expertise.
The emblematic video for World Agriculture Day is an eloquent demonstration of this concept. "To ensure the birth of healthy children, we turn to science and the expertise of the medical sector," says Nadine Fougeron, co-founder and official spokesperson. "And to ensure the healthy development of healthy children, they must have access to food produced a healthy agriculture."
Priority: A collective effort
By acquiring a virtual piece of farmland for their children, parents and parents-to-be will be supporting agricultural research. For a healthy diet and a clean environment!
The very first global program on potato research at McGill University in Canada will be supported by public contributions.
June 17, 2016 - Farm Management Canada (FMC) and the Canadian Association of Diploma in Agriculture Programs (CADAP) have announced the selection of the winners of the 2015-2016 Excellence Award for Ag Students Competition. Congratulations to the three winners.
FMC and CADAP collected submissions from agricultural students across Canada and selected three winners who will receive scholarships towards furthering their education in agriculture. First place won $1,500!The award is designed to help students develop their communication skills by having the opportunity to voice their opinion on a on a subject related to farm management.
Students were asked to submit a multimedia presentation, a video, a Twitter chat, a blog or a Wiki, responding to the following question:
What top 3 priorities should Canada's agricultural industry focus on in order to be a leading agricultural body going forward? How will you, as a new graduate, positively contribute to these priorities?
This year's winners are:
- Tomina Jackson, University of Saskatchewan, SK: View the winning entry
- Jessica Thompson, Maryfield School, SK: View the winning entry
- Laurie Laliberté, Université Laval, QC: View the winning entry
Visit www.fmc-gac.com for more details on the winners and their competition entries.
June 15, 2016 – Short documentaries featuring four youth from rural Ontario were unveiled at the Rural Ontario Institute’s (ROI) 6th Annual General Meeting this week. The videos profile Eric Duncan of Winchester, Emily Morrison of Beaverton, Megan Raftis of Harriston, and Branden Trochymchuck of Thunder Bay. These youth were chosen from almost 50 nominations for the first Youth Engagement Showcase (YES). Videos of their accomplishments were created to highlight rural youth making a difference in their communities.
“Being selected for a YES video profile has given me the assurance that what we are doing at Brock Youth Centre is good for our community, but YES has also shown me that this idea can be replicated in other communities across the province,” says Emily Morrison, who attended the AGM. “Organizations have reached out to us since the announcement wanting to learn more and to visit, in an effort to bring the entrepreneurship development ideas behind Cool Cow back to their communities to help their youth."
The meeting’s guest speaker, Arthur Potts, MPP and Parliamentary Assistant for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, commended the YES initiative. Potts also spoke of the upcoming Rural Ontario Summit which shares a theme with YES – attracting and retaining youth in rural Ontario.
The Youth Engagement Showcase profiles compelling stories of young leaders tackling important local issues, highlights the impact youth can have in their communities and demonstrates how different types of rural communities can successfully involve youth in addressing local challenges. “We know that engaged youth are more likely to return to their communities after post-secondary education. Inspiring youth leadership and rural youth to step up and make a difference in their towns is something the Rural Ontario Institute is passionate about,” says Rob Black, Chief Executive Officer with ROI.
The videos can be viewed on the ROI YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyTtoCMbBsL8CX8Btr2PMjg
June 9, 2016 - 4-H Canada and Bayer are supporting outstanding young minds who are making contributions in science and agri-food in Canada. With the support of Bayer, 4-H Canada launched its inaugural Science Fair this year, which represents a direct stream to the 55th Canada-Wide Science Festival (CWSF) which took place recently in Montreal, QC.
Four 4-H youth participated in the CWSF as the winners of the 4-H Canada Science Fair, which took place at Dalhousie Agricultural Campus in early-March 2016. In addition to giving out two 4-H Canada awards, 4-H Canada was proud to have two 4-H PEI members, Neleah Lavoie and Megan Downe, bring home a Bronze Medal in the junior category for their project, “Reward vs. Punishment – Which is the better motivator?”
The 4-H Canada Science Fair is part of 4-H Canada’s ongoing commitment to furthering science and technology skills and knowledge development for youth through 4-H programming. In addition to youth programming, 4-H Canada is also striving to increase the capacity for skills and knowledge transfer in science and technology, by training adult 4-H volunteers across Canada to become Science Champions in their communities. Together, 4-H Canada and Bayer are looking forward to building upon a successful first year of programs, increasing the number of Science Champions across Canada and launching the second year of the 4-H Canada Science Fair to more 4-H youth.
“The 4-H Science & Technology program is cultivating young leaders’ passion for science,” says Derrick Rozdeba, vice-president of communications at Bayer Canada. “We hope these youth will continue to pursue their discoveries in the world of science and technology with the goal of affecting positive change for a better life.”
“Congratulations to all of our 4-H participants at the Canada-Wide Science Festival,” says Shannon Benner, CEO of 4-H Canada. “Thanks to our generous partner Bayer, 4-H Canada is proud to provide programming for young people who are passionate about science and technology and recognize the incredible power of great young minds across Canada in making a difference in important fields such as agriculture and agri-food.”
To learn more about the 4-H Canada Science Fair and other science programming, please visit www.4-H-Canada.ca.
The government of Canada has launched a website seeking farmer input on the Growing Forward 2 (GF2) program, the current federal-provincial-territorial (FPT) agricultural policy framework. GF2 is a $3 billion dollar investment - over five-years (2013-2018) - by FPT governments to support innovation, competitiveness and market development.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is currently looking for individuals who are interested in weather and climate to report on their agroclimate conditions.
Upcoming Growing Forward 2 (GF2) application deadlines for Ontario organizations and collaborations are:
This year farmers have two opportunities to win the Robert L. Ross Memorial Scholarship to attend the Canadian Total Excellence in Agricultural Management (CTEAM) program.
Canadian agriculture representatives today announced February 16, 2017 will be Canada’s Agriculture Day – a time to celebrate and draw a closer connection between Canadians, our food and the people who produce it.
With 50 per cent of Canadians unsure about whether our food system is going in the right direction, new research and an initiative unveiled today aims to set benchmarks for success in communicating with Canadians about our food and farming.
June 7, 2016 – 4-H Canada and Farm Credit Canada (FCC) are proud to announce the extension of FCC funding to 4-H Canada until 2019. FCC’s annual 4-H Canada funding commitment of $250,000 supports national, provincial and club level programs and initiatives, including the popular FCC 4-H Club Fund. The announcement was made at 4-H Canada’s Annual General Meeting on Friday, June 3, 2016.
4-H Canada and FCC have much in common, particularly their efforts to foster a thriving agricultural community in Canada, and their partnership over the past 25 years is one of pride for both organizations. 4-H Canada’s goal of helping young Canadians “Learn To Do By Doing” in a safe, inclusive and fun environment has been supported greatly by FCC throughout the life of the FCC 4-H Club Fund and other funding initiatives.
For Canada’s leading agriculture lender, nurturing responsible, caring and contributing young people who are committed to positively impacting their communities across Canada is a win-win outcome.
“FCC believes in building partnerships that make our industry stronger,” says Todd Klink, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer at FCC. “We are proud to partner with 4-H Canada in strengthening the bond between this industry and young people, since the future of Canadian agriculture depends on our ability to nurture skilled, knowledgeable and forward-thinking future leaders.”
“We are grateful for the support that our partner FCC has contributed to the 4-H movement in Canada for the past quarter century,” says 4-H Canada CEO, Shannon Benner. “As one of our longest standing partners, FCC’s generous contributions towards building youth leaders have had a powerful and long-lasting impact for 4-H clubs across Canada. The positive outcomes and tangible benefits can be seen across the country.”
The partnership between 4-H Canada and FCC helps to create opportunities for agricultural and rural youth. FCC’s continued involvement with organizations furthering positive dialogue around agriculture, such as Agriculture More Than Ever (www.agriculturemorethanever.ca) and other initiatives, provides youth in programs such as 4-H with the resources and opportunities to take pride in being part of such an important industry and dynamic community. With FCC’s ongoing support of 4-H Canada through the FCC 4-H Club Fund, and with exciting new initiatives like Canada’s Agriculture Day (February 16, 2017), the future of agriculture in Canada looks bright.
For more information on the FCC 4-H Club Fund, please visit: http://www.4-h-canada.ca/fcc4hclubfund
A list of the 2015 FCC 4-H Club Fund recipients is available here: https://4-h-canada.ca/sites/default/files/fcc_4-h_club_fund_recipients_2015.pdf
June 3, 2016 - This year farmers have two opportunities to win the Robert L. Ross Memorial Scholarship to attend the Canadian Total Excellence in Agricultural Management (CTEAM) program.
CTEAM is run by Agri-food Management Excellence. During the program, farmers learn detailed financial, marketing and human relations management skills, using their own operation as a case study.
Robert (Bob) Ross was instrumental in guiding the CTEAM program, inspiring and encouraging farm management excellence across Canada through his leadership and passion for the agricultural community. Bob fought a courageous battle with cancer, passing in March 2014.
As a tribute to his passion, leadership and legacy, Agri-Food Management Excellence, Farm Management Canada, Family Farms Group and the Ross Family, along with an additional private contributor this year, established the Robert L. Ross Memorial Scholarship program, rewarding two farmers with the opportunity to participate in the CTEAM program and continue on a path towards excellence, as inspired by Canada’s leading experts and a one-of-a-kind support network of peers and colleagues.
This year there will be two scholarships of $8250 (CDN), which are to be applied towards CTEAM tuition and travel. The successful applicants can choose to attend CTEAM starting in January 2017.
Applicants must be more than 21 years of age and possess passion and devotion to excellence in farm business management. See the application for a complete list of requirements.
The deadline for scholarship applications is Sept. 15, 2016. Applications can be downloaded at www.agrifoodtraining.com.
May 17, 2016 – The Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program is back for 2016. The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), with support from Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, is pleased to support producers who are enhancing farm habitat for species at risk across the province. With streamlined funding levels and new bundled application forms – and up to $20,000 available per farm business – it’s easy to benefit more with SARFIP.
Farm businesses in Ontario can access cost-share dollars for on-farm projects that implement a variety of Best Management Practices. With a diversity of project opportunities, eligible BMPs encompass activities around croplands, grasslands, shorelines, stream banks, wetlands and woodlands. Many opportunities are available to support critical habitat through SARFIP, including cross fencing for rotational grazing, watering systems for livestock, native tree planting, improved stream crossings, native grassland plantings, invasive species removal and erosion control structures, among others.
SARFIP 2016 is open to all agricultural landowners in the province. Projects that provide indirect benefits to species at risk are eligible for 50 per cent cost-share, and projects that directly benefit species at risk are eligible for 65 per cent. An additional bonus of 10 per cent cost-share is available for direct benefit projects if the producer is interested in enrolling in SAR-Watch, a monitoring program that measures the impact of SARFIP projects on the ground for species at risk.
To find out if SARFIP is a good fit with your farm, consult the program brochure for complete and detailed program information. All program materials, including the brochure and application forms can be found on the OSCIA website. To be eligible to participate in SARFIP, Ontario farm businesses must have a completed 3rd or 4th Edition Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) workbook and Action Plan that has been verified and completed within the last five years.
Applications are now being accepted, and funding will be allocated to projects in the order in which they are received until fully allocated. Funding for this program is limited; if you have a project idea that fits, get your application submitted as soon as possible. Projects initiated on or after April 1, 2016 may be eligible.
May 10, 2016, Calgary, AB - The Alberta Young Speakers for Agriculture (AYSA) has announced its inaugural public speaking competition for Albertan youth to share their passion about the agricultural industry. The competition will be held during the Calgary Stampede, and offers youth ages 11-24 an opportunity to share their views in a speech on a topic important to Albertan and Canadian agriculture.
"We're excited to announce the launch of this exciting communications competition for Albertan youth at the Calgary Stampede," said Eric Dalke, AYSA co-founder. "We invite youth ages 11-24 to sign up and share their passion for the agricultural industry by speaking and sharing their views on Canadian agriculture."
The competition will be held on July 13th during the Calgary Stampede, and offers youth the opportunity to compete with a five to seven minute speech on topics important to the agricultural industry. Winners have the opportunity to win a cash prize of up to $1,000 and will be eligible to compete in the Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture competition in Toronto.
The topics for the 2016 competition are:
• What is the impact of public opinion on Canadian farmers?
• How would you explain a GMO to a non-farmer?
• What does the next generation of agriculture bring to the table?
• How can we improve the media's perception of Canadian agriculture?
• Old MacDonald had a farm ... But what about Mrs. MacDonald?
"Agriculture is a vital industry for Canada and Alberta and it's important we develop future leaders to help this industry thrive," said Dalke. "This competition is about giving the young leaders of tomorrow the opportunity to learn, grow and succeed in Canadian agriculture."
Alberta Young Speakers for Agriculture is an organization dedicated to providing Alberta youth with an opportunity to discuss current topics impacting the Canadian agriculture industry.
April 2016 - The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) is hosting webinars to learn about the Growing Forward 2 funding assistance for producers program.
Growing Forward 2 (GF2) is a five-year federal-provincial-territorial initiative designed to encourage innovation, competitiveness and market development in Canada's agri-food and agri-products sector through cost-share funding opportunities.
These webinars will provide an opportunity to learn about completing an online application using the GF2 client portal. Whether you wish to apply online or in person, these sessions will help provide guidance to ensure your application is complete.
To participate in a webinar, you need an internet connection as well as a telephone line. Advanced registration is required.
- June 20, 7:30 p.m., English (workshop leader - Robin Brown)
- June 21, 7 p.m., French (workshop leader - Michel Champagne)
- June 22, 12 p.m., English (workshop leader - Robin Brown)
Apr. 18, 2016 - The federal government is providing a one-year investment of up to $1.9 million for the Agricultural Youth Green Jobs Initiative to attract youth to green jobs within the agriculture and agri-food sector.
The Agricultural Youth Green Jobs Initiative will help fund internships for post-secondary graduates working in the agriculture industry. These internships would include activities or projects that benefit the environment.
Under the initiative, support is available to fund internships both on the farm, and with organizations engaged in the agriculture and agri-food sector to help attract youth to green jobs.
The Agricultural Youth Green Jobs Initiative falls under the Youth Employment Strategy (YES), a government-wide initiative to help young people, particularly those facing barriers to employment, get the information and gain the skills, work experience and abilities they need to make a successful transition into the labour market.
More information is available here.
April 15, 2016, Canada – At the beginning of May 2016, Canadian farm operators will have the chance to take part in a national dialogue by completing the Census of Agriculture questionnaire.
The Census of Agriculture is the definitive source of community level data. By drawing on these data, decision makers will know that they are acting in the interests of farmers, farm communities and agricultural operations across Canada.
Farm organizations are heavy users of census data and draw on this information when formulating policy requests, producing communication and outreach work, and conducting market research. For more information, please visit the Statistics Canada website:
April 11, 2016, Ontario – The Ontario Hay and Forage Co-operative, working in collaboration with the Ontario Forage Council, has received Growing Forward 2 funding approval from the Agricultural Adaptation Council for a comprehensive feasibility study and business plan for its double-compaction hay processing facility. The Growing Forward 2 funding of $81,116 will enable the co-operative to build a strong business case for its plan to build a facility capable of processing up to 100,000 tonnes of premium quality Ontario hay annually.
The recently formed co-operative is aiming to tap into export markets for superior forages to support growing dairy, equine, and livestock markets, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. The co-operative’s goal is to increase returns for producers by enabling them to obtain higher prices for their hay.
By working with producers to establish on-farm hay-drying facilities, and building a facility to compact their hay into compressed square bales for overseas shipment, the co-operative intends to offer a premium product to buyers in the livestock and equine sectors.
The Ontario Hay and Forage Co-operative has been structured as a “new generation co-operative” which means that producers will be both entitled and obligated to deliver hay to the co-operative. Members will invest in the co-operative in proportion to the volume of hay they commit to deliver to the co-operative.
Profits from the venture will be shared among members based on the volume of hay they ship to the co-operative. An incentive structure will be developed to reward member producers for premium quality hay. Producers interested in joining the co-operative can get more information on the co-operative’s website (www.ontariohay.ca).
This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.
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SeedMaster Crop TourWed Jul 26, 2017
AAFC Charlottetown Research Centre Open House and TourFri Aug 04, 2017
Potato Research DayWed Aug 09, 2017
Biochar Field Tour Open HouseFri Aug 11, 2017
Ontario Potato Field DayThu Aug 17, 2017
Alberta Open Farm DaysSat Aug 19, 2017