The Gleaner
Agriculture

New campaign highlights young farmers’ struggles

In March of this year, young farmers gathered at the Congrès de la Fédération de la relève agricole (FRAQ) in order to launch the #maistoutvabien campaign. This launch happened with the goal of raising awareness from both the public and the government about the stress the farming community is facing in the context of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada saying net revenue dropped 49.2 per cent in 2023, and it is predicting a drop of 86.5 per cent in 2024.

Farmers gave testimonies and shared the sacrifices they make to feed the population. Unfortunately, it often seems like these sacrifices are expected and minimized. The title of the campaign, which says “but everything’s fine,” is a dismissive response that farmers often get when they try to raise concerns to the people who have power to make change.

The outgoing president of the FRAQ, Julie Bissonnette, says that “During my presidency, I’ve seen that young farmers everywhere share the same dream: for the prime minister to talk about agriculture as a real social project. … when we talk about developing the battery industry, is it a plan for the future, a collective project, but when we talk about agriculture, it’s a real social project. When we talk about agriculture, we have to [dig deeper]. Food autonomy isn’t just a slogan, it’s about concrete actions to support the entire network, from field to plate.”

 

The maistoutvabien campaign launched by the Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec FRAQ aims to help farmers share the obstacles that the agriculture industry as a whole is currently facing PHOTO Facebook Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec FRAQ

 

On top of this, many farmers are required to work part time or full time in order to financially support the upkeep of a farm. Plus, climate change directly impacts their ability to run their businesses. Much of the financial aid that is available is limited to investment programs that create debt for new farmers. Land prices are going up exponentially and only one per cent of Quebec’s budget is allocated to agriculture, meaning these young farmers are seemingly set up for failure.

This sentiment is echoed by incoming president David Beauvais, who is also a sheep farmer in the Eastern Townships. He shares that “It’s as if it’s normal to work outside the home while running a full-time business full time, or that you’re not able to take a vacation when you’re about to break. Would we find this normal in other industries? I certainly doubt it.”

The FRAQ is an organization founded to help uplift the voices of young farmers. It currently has 2,000 members and 13 affiliated unions. Its goal is to bring young people together, improve conditions in agriculture, educate and prepare the next generation of farmers. For these reasons, the FRAQ supports the #maistourvabien initiative.

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