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Ceylon couple finalists for Outstanding Young Farmers

The finalists for the 2014 Saskatchewan's Outstanding Young Farmers' (OYF) competition have just been announced.

The finalists for the 2014 Saskatchewan's Outstanding Young Farmers' (OYF) competition have just been announced. Selected from several nominations, the top two finalists are:

Ryan and Leanne Thompson, Living Sky Beef, Ceylon; and Aaron and Adrienne Ivey, mixed cattle and grain farm, Ituna.

Ryan and Leanne live between Ceylon and Minton, in southeast Saskatchewan where they operate Living Sky Beef Inc. Ryan grew up in the beef industry being raised on a mixed farm near Carnduff, while Leanne was raised on a grain farm at Hearne, Sask. The two met when they both attended the University of Saskatchewan, graduating with Degrees in Agriculture. Both carried on at the U of S completing MSc. Degrees in the area of Animal Science.

Following University, Ryan and Leanne moved to Lethbridge in 2002 where Ryan worked as a feedlot consultant for Cargill Animal Nutrition and Leanne worked at Agriculture Canada as a research assistant. Yearning to get back to Saskatchewan, the pair moved to Ceylon when the opportunity arose for Ryan to manage Border Line Feeders, a 7,000-head feedlot that was just beginning operation in 2005.

During his six years managing the feedlot, it grew to a 12,000 head, very successful facility and was nominated for ABEX awards in six consecutive years, winning the ABEX for investment in 2006 and the award for Community Involvement in 2010. During this time, Leanne began working as a consultant, managing projects and doing communications work for a variety of Agricultural organizations including the Saskatchewan Forage Council.

In addition to their day jobs, Ryan and Leanne began feeding cattle in 2008. In 2010, they purchased land near Minton and in 2011 Ryan left his job at the feedlot to manage their own business, Living Sky Beef. This operation incorporates beef and forage management and includes cow/calf, backgrounding, and finishing of cattle as the market dictates.

Ryan and Leanne both strongly believe that producers need to be involved in the direction and policy development that shapes their industry. More than just a belief, Ryan has demonstrated his dedication to the beef industry through involvement in various boards and initiatives including, director for the Saskatchewan Cattle Feeders Association (SCFA), director for the Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Association (SCA), Sask. director for National Cattle Feeders Association, advisory committee for the University of Saskatchewan's Beef Cattle Research and Teaching Unit and member of the Youth Economic Engagement Council of Enterprise Saskatchewan.

Leanne's work with agricultural organizations have seen her involved in a number of committees and boards as well including Saskatchewan Beef & Forage Symposium, Saskatchewan Pasture School, Saskatchewan Beef Industry Conference, Native Prairie Reclamation Restoration Workshop, Canadian Forage and Grassland Association board member, Sask. Advisory Council on Forage Crops and Western Canadian Feedlot Management School.

Leanne and Ryan welcomed Samuel into their family in 2010 and Rachel in 2013.

They look forward to raising their children in rural Saskatchewan, teaching them the importance of community involvement and the role of stewardship in agriculture. Samuel is already showing an interest in the beef industry as he rarely passes up an opportunity to help check cows or ride in the tractor.

These finalists now head to the Provincial Competition being held at the Hotel Saskatchewan in Regina from June 19-20 where their interview and presentation skills will be evaluated by a panel of judges.

Demonstrating leadership in the agricultural industry, nominees are judged according to the following criteria:

Progress made in their agriculture career; Environmental and safety practices; Crop and livestock production history; Financial and management practices; Contributions to the well-being of their community, province, nation.

The winner will be announced at the Canada's Farm Progress Show at an Awards Luncheon on Friday, June 20, and among other prizes, will receive a trip to the National Awards Program, to be held in Quebec City, Quebec this November.

Celebrating 34 years of identifying great agricultural successes, Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers' program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture.

Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year.