Two farm organizations have formed a partnership to encourage female entrepreneurship in agriculture and the enhancement of services offered to francophone farmers in Québec and Ontario. 

The Union des cultivateurs franco-ontariens (UCFO) and the Agricultrices du Québec (AQ) announced the partnership in Ottawa on August 9.   

This partnership will allow women farmers in both provinces to benefit from the free entrepreneurial development services offered in French by both organizations, including mentoring, professional co-development and training programs.  

“This is a new partnership between two major agricultural unions in the Canadian Francophonie and which specifically aims to develop services to support women’s entrepreneurship in agriculture… it’s unique and it’s extraordinary” said UCFO General Manager Danik Lafond.

Women farmers in Québec and Ontario can now register for the Agrimentor program’s personalized support service, free of charge. This individualized support service is offered in partnership with the Fédération des gens d’affaires francophones de l’Ontario (FGA).  

As part of the female agricultural entrepreneurship support project overseen by Agricultrices du Québec, professional co-development opportunities and training will be offered starting in the fall of 2022 to French-speaking women farmers from both provinces. These sessions will allow women farmers to discuss their challenges and find collective solutions to the challenges of women’s entrepreneurship in agriculture.  

“For our organization, this is a great opportunity to promote our expertise and our services beyond the province of Québec. If this is a first partnership, it is certainly not the last since our objectives are the same, namely, to support female agricultural entrepreneurship” said AQ General Manager France De Montigny.  

Recent data from the 2021 Census of Agriculture indicates, over a 5-year period, a decrease of farm operators under the age of 35 at a rate of 15 per cent in Ontario and 12 per cent in Québec. In addition, the representation of women in agriculture in Ontario is 31 per cent and 28 per cent in Québec remains below their composition of the population, which is 53 per cent in Ontario and 50 per cent in Québec.  

The two organizations want to encourage women’s participation in the ownership of agricultural businesses by creating investment funds for agricultural entrepreneurial succession as well as the financing of mentoring and support programs, as recommended by a new report on the francophone economy recently published by the FGA and the Assemblée de la francophonie.  

“This partnership agreement between the UCFO and Les Agricultrices du Québec represents a very important first initiative to meet the needs of the agricultural sector in both provinces, namely, to support the next generation of farmers and women’s entrepreneurship,” Lafond said.    

 The UCFO is the only accredited Francophone agricultural organization in Ontario. The UCFO is the voice of more than 2,000 agricultural businesses and nearly 4,500 Francophone agricultural workers involved in the socio-economic development of agricultural and rural communities in Ontario. 

 Les Agricultrices du Québec is the only structured professional women’s agricultural union in Canada.