Beef farmer Wayne McQuaid of South Melville, Prince Edward Island, raised a beef herd by the time he was 15 (see his story on page 40). Christie D’Aubin, 17, of Bridgetown, N.S., has a herd of five cows and may one day be selling beef to her parents (see the story starting page 24). Stories like these are not at all surprising to families who raise beef or breed sheep, but they sure are to me and to other people who are on the outside looking in.
Likewise, I was deeply impressed by the enterprising spirit of Alix Kusch, also of Nova Scotia, who is shearing sheep to help pay her way through her studies at the Dalhousie University agricultural campus in Bible Hill, N.S., and who has her eyes set on attending the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island (see the photo of Kusch at work on page 22). Then on page 36, Vernon Campbell of Mull Na Beinne Farms, in P.E.I., tells writer George Fullerton that he thinks he has found a new line of beef production that “would be a good business opportunity for new entrants to agriculture.” In the continuation of Fullerton’s three-part series on unique production systems – which will unfold in coming issues of this magazine – it becomes evident that many farmers are raising entrepreneurs as well as beef. Again, this is pretty obvious to farmers; less so to non-farmers.
When many politicians and community leaders across Atlantic Canada are pointing in despair to the significant numbers of younger people leaving for employment in other provinces, livestock producers and their families have something to contribute, to counter the sense of hopelessness that some people express when they speak of the future in rural communities. This generation of skilled people being raised on farms is growing up at the same time as consumers and governments have a growing interest in making sure there is a supply of safe, locally sourced food.
As they grow up, their skills are often honed at the Ag college in Bible Hill, where there may soon be a new meat cutting and processing course (see publisher Dirk van Loon’s “Last Word” on page 44). Before they get to that point, however, they have already gained confidence, not only through their parents’ hands-on teaching, but also through 4-H and junior associations. The enthusiasm and expertise of children and youth at shows and junior field days has been captured throughout the pages of Atlantic Beef & Sheep over its 25 years. As this magazine grows older, hopefully the faces of the people who are portrayed in its pages will grow younger, as a new generation takes over the family farm. RB