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Canada chooses its 2013 Outstanding Young Farmers

Published on 26 November 2013

Grain farmers Michael Kalisvaart and his wife, Karen Jansen of Gibbons, Alberta, along with dairy farmers James and Amanda Kinsman of Berwick, Nova Scotia, are Canada’s 2013 Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF). These latest farm family winners were chosen from seven regional farm couples across Canada at the OYF annual national event held recently in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Completing its 33rd year, Canada’s OYF program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Both OYF’s latest ambassadors for Canadian agriculture followed in their parents’ footsteps into farming.

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Michael Kalisvaart shadowed his father on the first generation hog and grain farm his parents started after immigrating to Canada from The Netherlands in the late 1970s.

James Kinsman joined the family farm in 2001, working with his father before taking over management and eventually ownership of the family dairy operation.

“Every year, OYF has the unique opportunity to showcase Canadian farm families that exemplify the spirit and innovation that drives this industry,” says OYF President Derek Janzen.

“This year’s winners demonstrate the successful insights gleaned from previous generations, and the innovative outlook to move their business and the agricultural industry ahead. Michael Kalisvaart, Karen Jansen and the Kinsmans are tremendous examples of progressive agriculture at work.”

Growing up watching his parents got Michael Kalisvaart hooked on farming. His involvement grew as the family farm did, and today Michael and Karen own and operate Kalco Farms – an 11,000-acre commercial grain production enterprise.

Continuous learning plays an important role in Michael’s operation, with courses in leadership, management, human resources, crisis management and business planning adding to the farm’s business success. In 2002, Michael and Karen founded Share the Harvest, a local project to raise funds for the Canadian Food Grains Bank.

Ever since taking over the family farm, James and Amanda Kinsman had focused their efforts on efficiency, high milk production and growth in their dairy herd. In the last five years, they have doubled the size of their dairy operation, milking 190 Holstein cows three times a day and farming 2,000 acres at their Windcrest Farm Ltd.  

A stagnant dairy quota market inspired the Kinsmans to branch into grain farming, making use of the same equipment for feed production as they use for the dairy. In 2011, the couple was honoured as the 10-year recipients of the Dairy Farmers of Nova Scotia Excellence Award.

OYF also recognized the following honourees from the other five regions – Luc Gervais and Kim Brunelle (Quebec region); Dana and Adam Thatcher (Ontario region); Tyler and Dorelle Fulton (Manitoba region); Chad and Charlene Krikau (Saskatchewan region); and Troy and Sara Harker (British Columbia, Yukon region).  PD

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—From Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers news release

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