Becoming an egg farmer: the story of Andrew MonchukBy Christine Anawati
About a hundred and twenty six kilometers east of Saskatoon, you’ll find Lanigan, Saskatchewan—home to just over 1,000 Canadians. One of them is Andrew Monchuk, whose farm could not embody the idea of a family farm more. Andrew, his mom, and his dad all work on the farm. So does his wife and his brother. The Monchuks grow canola, barley, oats, and other crops. But as Andrew notes, “agriculture is a business built on the environment,” and Mother Nature determines whether it’s a good year or a bad one.
“My wife encouraged me to diversify the farm,” says Andrew, “and I was looking for a new challenge.” What better challenge than adding a new operation to the farm—an egg barn.
Andrew is one of many farmers who have joined the industry through programs designed to make it easier for new egg farmers to get a start in the industry. These programs are essential for those aspiring to become egg farmers. As Andrew describes it: “What attracted me to the egg industry was basically the new entrant program; without it, I’m not sure I could economically justify building a poultry operation.”
Andrew and his family built a business plan and submitted it to the Saskatchewan Egg Producers. “It was a straight forward process to apply,” says Andrew, “and I was happy as happy can be when I got the phone call.”
So why egg farming? There are a few things Andrew loves, not least of which is the stability of supply management: “if every aspect of my farm could be based on a guaranteed return like my egg farm, I would sleep a lot easier,” Andrew says.
The Saskatchewan Egg Producers wanted Andrew in production within a full calendar year, so he had to get moving. Step one: figuring out what kind of egg farm he wanted. He chose an aviary barn, after touring barns in Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
This was made possible by Saskatchewan’s new entrant program. Programs like Saskatchewan’s—that are found across the country—are designed to make life easier for those aiming to join the industry. It’s what allowed Andrew Monchuk to become a Canadian egg farmer—and he’s not far away from starting production.
“The building itself is done, and we’ll have pullets in the beginning of May,” says Andrew. “We’ve done the planning and I’m confident where we are.”
At the end of the day, Andrew couldn’t be more excited to join the industry. He feels “very blessed, very excited, and very happy.” It’s a chance to blaze his own trail on the Monchuk family farm. “I’ve built on a lot of stuff my parents started,” Andrew says with pride, “and this is me breaking the mould… doing my own thing.”