This is the first in the series of profiles for the 2022 Young Farmer Program participants. They are all young leaders taking part in Egg Farmers of Canada’s national young farmer program. The goal of the program is to provide young farmers with the skills, knowledge and experience to be leaders in the industry.
West Lincoln, Ontario
The Pelissero family has been farming in the Niagara Region for half a century – and has played an integral role in Ontario agriculture for four generations. Jacob Pelissero is continuing the family legacy of producing eggs while also making his own mark in the agriculture industry.
Jacob always knew that his career path would be in agriculture and that he’d eventually end up back on his West Lincoln, Ontario, family farm but he wanted to spend some time working off-farm first. After graduating from the University of Guelph’s Bachelor of Commerce in Agriculture Business co-op program in 2015, he worked as a producer representative for Gray Ridge Egg Farms.
But that didn’t last long. As Jacob’s father, Roger, got more involved with Egg Farmers of Ontario as a director – and in 2017, elected as Chair of Egg Farmers of Canada – there needed to be someone at home. In 2016, Jacob started working full-time as an egg farmer.
Since returning to the farm, Jacob has focused on modernizing the farm’s facilities. In 2012, the Pelissero’s built one of Ontario’s first enriched colony housing systems. More recently, they have renovated one of the farm’s original barns to an enriched colony housing system as well. In total, they have 20,000 laying hens and also raise pullets.
Together with his wife, Sarah, Jacob has also diversified his farm business. They have gotten involved in the sport of rodeo roping, and what started out as a hobby has now grown into a passion that includes a side business of producing hay, raising cattle, and selling rodeo accessories and equipment. Weekends and holidays are often spent taking part in roping events across the province – which Jacob says is the perfect family-friendly activity to share with their young son, one-year-old Blake.
Jacob has been active in leadership roles in the agricultural sector, including as a student leader with the University of Guelph’s poultry club and College Royal and as a director with the Smithville Poultryfest. He enjoys participating in the zone, provincial, and national egg farmer meetings. Getting more involved with the provincial or national egg board is something that he may consider in the future when the timing is right.
“I could see myself getting involved in that a little later in my career,” he says. “I recognize how much work it is to run a business to provide safe, nutritional food and raise a family… later on, if I have the opportunity and support, I’d like to get involved.”
In the meantime, Jacob is participating in the 2022 cohort of the national young farmer program. It’s an opportunity, he says, to learn more about the industry and build a network of other young egg producers from across the country.
“Just because you’re done school doesn’t mean you’re done learning,” he says.