NOVA SCOTIA FEDERATION OF AGRICULTURE
You could say Justin Beck was born to be a farmer.
His father, Terry Beck, has been a pork producer in Nova Scotia for 30 years and, while Justin remembers times growing up when he would rather have been playing than doing barn chores, “farming was always part of my life and I just sort of evolved into it being my career choice.”
When he realized he’d rather be working in the barns or the fields than playing games or watching television, he knew farming would be his future, and took steps to learn even more about his chosen profession.
The 24-year old from North Kingston now has a degree in bio-environmental systems from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, works full-time in crop and processing systems at Lyndhurst Farms in Canning, helps his father with the 650-sow farrow-to-weaner hog farm, raises corn, soybeans and cereal crops on his own 60-acre operation and is involved in a variety of volunteer organizations.
Having staunch, long held belief young farmers are the key to a successful agricultural future in Canada, Beck has been actively involved in several organizations to foster growth and development of youth in agriculture. He is currently past chairman of the Nova Scotia Young Farmers Forum, having served as chairman for the past four years, and is in his third year as the director representing Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador on the Canadian Young Farmers Forum, where he also serves as vice-chairman. Both organizations are educational groups as opposed to lobby organizations, dedicated to fostering up-and-coming leaders in agriculture, helping to nurture experience and skills for service on commodity boards and other agricultural agencies.
“Young farmers need to build up confidence in their abilities, gain some experience and plan for their farming futures and succession concerns,” Beck says. “When we get informed and work together, we can really make things happen - including influencing future agricultural policy.”
Beck is quietly proud good management decisions helped his family’s farm weather the on-going crisis in the Canadian hog industry.
“That’s not to say it hasn’t been tough at times, and we’re still not out of the woods,” he acknowledges, “but we believe in having a positive attitude towards our profession and our industry, and that has helped us through both bad and good times.”
Beck’s father, Terry, has been a strong and positive influence on his own development as a young farmer.
“My father has always been innovative and willing to do things a little differently, with a focus on good management practices, and not merely expansion for the sake of getting larger.”
As far as his own future goes, beck is gradually taking more of a lead role in the farm, allowing his father to work on another facet of their operation: marketing their own pork directly to consumers. Beck is keen to develop a completely local product, where even the grains milled into hog ration are all grown on the farm. His experience with environmental science and agricultural engineering has him also studying ways to harness the methane from manure for energy to produce electricity.
“There’s always more to learn in agriculture, and new, even better ways of doing things,” he says.
“If I can encourage other young men and women to see the opportunities in farming, and share the huge job satisfaction that can come from agriculture, I’ll be well pleased.”