Gordon Bell

Two University of Guelph graduate students has been named as members of the inaugural Agricultural Youth Council to advise the federal government on agri-food issues that matter most to young people.

Gordon Bell and Vicki Brisson are among 25 youths chosen for the council, selected from more than 800 applicants.

Bell is a graduate student in the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) and is studying soil health, including crop rotation, soil texture, climate change and water budgets in field crop production.

Brisson is completing her MSc in the Department of Animal Biosciences within OAC, specializing in diary research.

The members of the youth council were each chosen to represent a subsector of the agriculture and agri-food sector, as well as each province and the North.

The council will advise Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), including making suggestions on federal government priorities, as well as identifying problems and proposing solutions on key issues.

Vicki Brisson
Vicki Brisson

In a news release, AAFC said the council is designed to give a voice to young Canadians who are engaged and passionate about the future of the agri-food sector.

Bell is a scholar in the Climate Smart Soils program, which seeks to train students to address the challenges climate change will bring to agriculture. He hopes to find ways to ensure that farmers receive support and incentives to adopt affordable and sustainable practices. He also wants to ensure that the agriculture industry is accessible to people of all backgrounds.

Brisson is a francophone scientist sho grew on dairy farms. She is interested in discussing how to use new technologies to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the agriculture and agri-food sector. She would also like to address discrimination issues to ensure the inclusivity of the sector.

AAFC says youth council members will provide insights on topics including how the sector is adapting to COVID-19, business risk management programs, sustainable agriculture, market diversification, skills and labour, intergenerational farm transfers and mental health.

The council will meet multiple times annually, with the inaugural meeting to held virtually in August.