Marie-Pier Lefebvre: There is a place for us, as the next generation
This is the eighth in a series of profiles of young egg farmers. They are all young leaders taking part in Egg Farmers of Canada’s national young farmer program, and will participate in the Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum annual conference in Vancouver February 26-29 under the theme ‘Farm Together’.
“There is a place for us, as the next generation”
Marie-Pier Lefebvre is very upbeat about the egg industry, particularly for young people.
“The industry is very dynamic, and there are a lot of young people involved in it,” she says.
“We can see a lot of changes coming our way, and we will have to adapt. But I am confident that as an industry we will manage change successfully, because we are close to consumers.
“For young people, that’s very stimulating. There’s a place for us, as the next generation.”
Marie-Pier is well-placed to make that call.
She grew up on an egg farm on the Richelieu River just east of Montreal. La Ferme St-Ours, which today has about 150,000 laying hens, is run by her parents, Martine Bourgeois and Serge Lefebvre, and her aunt, Chantal Bourgeois. She and her brother David are involved in the farm; two other siblings are not.
Her family recently partnered with another family in the area to buy an egg farm in northwestern New Brunswick. La Ferme Madalia, in St-Jacques, N.B., near Edmundston, has another 100,000 laying hens in addition to a hatchery and other operations.
Her family has given Marie-Pier special specific responsibilities at La Ferme Madalia.
“It’s a project I can take on–kind of like my own project,” she says. “For a young person, that’s really interesting!”
Marie-Pier trained as an accountant.
Though she grew up on the family egg farm, she always realized that many different skills were needed in a large agricultural operation.
“It had always been in the back of my head that I wanted to become involved in the farm,” she says, adding that she was drawn to the financial side of the business because her aunt Chantal is an accountant, and she could see it was a useful skill to have.
“I’ve always enjoyed agriculture, but I always wanted to get training in something else”, she says. “In my mind it was never one or the other. It was about getting training that would be useful in agriculture, a sector that is increasingly demanding in terms of skills and technology. Accounting is just one more skill in my skill set.”
She can already see how the business is changing.
Marie-Pier’s responsibilities include overseeing the finances of the New Brunswick operation, and she says there’s no need for her to be on site.
“Technology is a real plus, because it allows us to get information the New Brunswick operation in real time,” she says. “We can see things like consumption of water and feed right away.”
Of course the family does regularly visit the operation, and they have staff on-site.
For Marie-Pier, that’s just as well. To say she is busy is an understatement.
In addition to her work on the farm, she works part-time for an accounting firm, and she has a one-and-a-half-year-old son.
“I’m lucky to have an exceptional family, an exceptional husband and an exceptional child,” she says.