Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers Program (OYF) is a unique program designed to recognize farmers and farm couples who exemplify excellence in their profession.
The program was founded in 1979 by the Canadian Junior Chamber/Jay-cees and is open to farmers or couples who derive at least two-thirds of their income from farming operations.
The Ontario Region of the OYF is one of seven regional programs. Each region holds an event where local nominees are judged on specific criteria. All regional winners represent their areas at an annual national event where they compete to be named Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers. See our alumni for all our past regional and national winners.
Congratulations to our 2014 Winners
Jason and Amanda O’Connell
Sunol Farms, Carleton Place
Jason was raised on a small hobby beef farm, and at a very young age, he knew he was passionate about farming. After attending Kemptville College, U of G, he managed Hamilton Livestock, and started his own cattle buying business.
Amanda grew up on a dairy farm, not far from Jason, but only met him while attending college. After university, she returned home and started a job with Mycogen Seeds.
When the decision was made to buy out Amanda’s family dairy farm, they faced the common problem of finalizing succession and implementing changes. In their words, “After the first couple years of working to convince others to incorporate new technologies, and science, we were given free rein to make management decisions.” Over the eight years since they took over the farm, they have moved from milking 127 cows filling 70 kgs of quota to now milking 90-95 cows while filling 120+kg daily.
Their farming goals are to achieve high yields in both milk and crop production. They would still like to double quota holdings, however the quota cap has slowed down that achievement. Since the birth of their daughter, Margaret (2), a more important goal is to maintain the quality of life.
The O’Connells insist on keeping an open mind. They embrace new ideas and technology, researching and evaluating everything carefully. Their 1500 acre cropping system rotates between corn, soybeans, and wheat with some pure alfalfa, and grass hay. Amanda scouts all of the fields weekly to ensure that Jason can get the fields sprayed at the appropriate time, fertilizer can be spread, and crops harvested at ideal times.
The couple is highly involved with their community, helping with the North Lanark Agricultural Society, Junior Farmers’, 4-H, 2013 International Plowing Match and Holstein Ontario. Amanda is also a past winner of the Dairy Youth Award from Holstein Ontario.
The O’Connells were nominated by Holstein Ontario