The Canadian egg sector is home to exemplary farmers who are role models not only on their farms, but also in their communities. We’re proud to shine a light on a few rising leaders who were honoured as part of Canadian Poultry’s inaugural Top 4 Under 40 program.
The Top 4 Under 40 program was created to recognize young leaders in the agriculture industry, each nominated for their innovation, leadership and community impact. Meet the three Canadian egg farmers who made the list and learn why they’ve been selected.
Anneke Stickney, Elora, Ontario
After obtaining a business degree and gaining a decade of experience in finance, Anneke Stickney returned to her roots to take over her family egg farm in Ontario. “My schooling and my background in the banking industry have definitely provided me with some insight in…day-to-day operations,” said Anneke.
To kick-start her career in farming, Anneke participated in the Egg Farmers of Canada national young farmer program. The initiative fosters leadership and shares best practices between farmers. Supported by her finance background and her learnings from the program, Anneke led the expansion of her family farm and transitioned the laying barn to an enriched housing system.
Today, three barns stand on Stickney’s farm—each equipped with new technology that provide improved ventilation and optimize space for the hens. These advancements also generate efficiencies on the farm, such as quicker and more delicate egg collection, leading to a reduction in on-farm waste.
When Anneke is not managing the books or the barns, she’s raising her four sons and giving back to her community. As part of Egg Farmers of Ontario’s egg donation program, Stickney coordinates the donation of hard boiled eggs to local school breakfast clubs. Anneke also lends her time as Treasurer of the Ag Women’s Network—a group of more than 2,000 farmers and professionals that empower women in agriculture.
Harley Siemens, Rosenort, Manitoba
Harley Siemens is a fourth generation egg farmer, a tireless educator and proud advocate for the system of supply management.
When his father was looking to expand their family farm, Harley took the reins on conducting research, establishing a plan and carrying out the construction. “I toured some barns… I talked to different cage providers and it all really fell into place really quickly,” Siemens said. Before long, Harley successfully transitioned the farm to free run aviary housing, which has led to increased productivity.
When Siemens is not working on the farm, he proudly advocates for the Canadian agriculture industry. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and bringing Canadians closer to their food.
“I believe it’s very important not just for egg farmers, but for Canadian agricultural farmers, to share our stories. People out in urban communities, they don’t necessarily get to see that (farming) side,” said Siemens. He encourages people to “open their doors,” answer questions and build trust.
“It’s our job to help inform them and show them what we do,” he added. Siemens offers virtual barn tours for students as part of BC Agriculture in the Classroom and actively participates in agricultural events to create awareness and share the importance of egg farming wherever he can.
Richard Boer, Chilliwack, British Columbia
Growing up on a dairy farm, Richard Boer always had an appreciation for hard work. He understood the dedication it takes to be a farmer, but had little hands-on experience with hens upon starting in the egg sector.
What Richard lacked in egg farming experience, he made up for in preparation. In 2019, Richard participated in the Egg Farmers of Canada national young farmer program. “I found some really knowledgeable people that were willing to give me some good advice and…I leaned on them to mentor me. They were more than willing to answer any question I had,” said Richard.
Today, Richard runs a diverse farm with his wife Jacqueline and her brothers. The farm is home to laying hens, pullets, broiler chickens and dairy cows.
When the pandemic hit and Canadians sought out local food, Richard quickly adapted to make it easier for neighbours to access fresh, high-quality eggs. His innovative approach involved selling eggs through an automated vending machine, eliminating the need for in-person contact.
When not home on the farm, Richard is giving back both in Canada and abroad. In 2019, he travelled to Eswatini through Egg Farmers of Canada’s partnership with Heart for Africa (Canada). There, Richard shared his skills and helped construct an egg farm that now contributes millions of eggs every year to help feed vulnerable children and the local community.