Winnipeg, MB  (Dec 3,2018) – Craig & Jinel Ference of Double F Farms, Kirriemuir, AB and Jordan & Alex McKay of Willowtree Farms, Port Perry ON were chosen as National Winners from seven regional farmers at Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmer(OYF) Program’s national event held last week in Winnipeg, MB.

What began as a wheat field in 1985 has grown into a 4000 cow herd, 8000 head feedlot with 13800 acres of crop and 41000 acres of grazing, and a custom farming business. The Ference’s focus is to “work smarter and do more with less”. They feel diversity in many agriculture sectors is important to allow for success and part of their succession planning. They work to improve organic matter as they want to improve the land they will pass on to the next generation. Double F Farms wants to be a responsible caretaker of the land and feel incorporating corn into their operation has been one of their greatest successes. With the size of their operation, employees are key, so Craig & Jinel secure employees through the foreign worker program which is rewarding but not without a large learning curve.

What began as a dairy has now become a vertically integrated farm that focuses on farm fresh local food. In 2016 Willowtree Farms Inc. opened a 4300 sq. ft. retail year round market complete with butcher shop and commercial kitchen. The farm goal is to create a one of kind “working farm” experience for customers while making the maximum use of the products it produces. Jordan focuses on the “big” picture which includes cash flow, profit, growth and staff.  Alex’s passion for sustainable farming has helped to increase the farm to 650 acres which employs over 35 employees that produce 35 hand-picked crops, 65 sheep and 102 cows. The McKay Brothers with the help of their spouses, Alyson and Kelty are always changing their operation because they believe that is the nature of what they do.

Franck Groeneweg, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers Program 1st Vice Chair, who attended the event had this to say about the two winners: “Alex and Jordan, along with their families, have successfully harnessed their complementary skills resulting in a multiplier rarely seen.  The Ference’s exemplify how previous family values continue to develop a culture of excellence, capturing opportunities that few others would dare to undertake.”

Every year this event brings recognition to outstanding farmers in Canada between 18 and 39 years of age who have exemplified excellence in their profession while fostering better urban-rural relations. The Ference’s and McKay’s were chosen from seven regional finalists, including the following honourees from the other five regions:

Tyler McNaughton & Sacha Bentall- Cutter Ranch, Fort Steele, BC

Jordan & Jennifer Lindgren- Lindgren Farms, Norquay SK

Brooks & Jen White- Borderland Agriculture,  Pierson MB

Philippe Laurendeau & Kristina Roarke- L’Authentic Farm, Warwick QC

Robert Anderson & Jill Ebbett- Calvin D Anderson & Son Ltd, Glassville NB


All the finalists exemplified pride, passion and professionalism in the agriculture industry.

Celebrating 38 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer, La Coop Fédérée and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.


For more information on this event please contact:

Carla Kaeding, Program Manager, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers

306.896.7833 ·  ·