Audrey Bélanger and Guillaume Lalumière, tenacity personified

Audrey Bélanger et Guillaume Lalumière, la ténacité incarnée

Tenacity personified

Who would have believed, ten years ago, that our good old lands would end up being worth their weight in gold and costing an eye-watering amount? In a decade, low interest rates, soaring grain prices, the moratorium on farms, land grabbing by big investors and gentlemen farmers have caused the cost to pay to explode by 202%. hectare of agricultural land. Enough to collapse the career dreams of a lot of young people who feel like they have a green thumb. And yet, in Montérégie, where the price of land has taken hold, a valiant couple from Valérien jumped into the adventure.

But beware ! There is no way for them to rush in without first ensuring they have solid training. After a course in agricultural business management and operation in Saint-Hyacinthe, Audrey Bélanger obtained a diploma in agroeconomics at Laval University, while Guillaume Lalumière completed his DEP in pork production.

For almost eight years, they worked tirelessly and “pounded, pounded, pounded” their money, as they say. He gained experience in pig maternities. Working 60 to 80 hours a week, he stood out by winning several performance awards within the Hypor genetics network in America. She became an account manager in agricultural finance at a bank, a position she still holds today. The least we can say is that they had determination to spare.

In April 2019, at the ages of 25 and 27, after more than eight years of preparation, Audrey and Guillaume were finally able to take over a plot of around a hundred acres in Saint-Valérien-de-Milton, a small municipality formed in the aftermath of the Anglo-American War of 1812. These two young people who grew up on farms purchased a pig farm with 2,800 fattening places.

Of course, the facilities were quite outdated and, in addition to renovating the buildings, it was necessary to invest in new technologies, drain the land and find a house. Whatever. They had the strong brow of youth. But above all, they could count on a solid business plan, good training and sufficient nest egg to make a 25% down payment.

“After a little over two years, things are going better than we anticipated. We have been very conservative and we keep our fingers crossed that it continues. We have projects, perhaps a nursery, but our priority is to reduce the debt burden. We want to be able to generate enough liquidity to feel comfortable. » Audrey Bélanger

“When I was ready to buy, my father was too young to retire. There were several children of us and he could not have supported us all financially. That's why we bought elsewhere. To a young person who would like to get started, I would tell them not to be too afraid, to collect their money, even if it takes ten or fifteen years. It's a competitive environment. You must always strive to improve and surround yourself with reliable people who will give you good advice. »

In the turmoil of the pandemic, it will come as no surprise that things are a little more stressful than usual. It's difficult these days to get a truck for the slaughterhouse. So much so that at the moment, Audrey and Guillaume, whose inputs are all provided by their integrator, find themselves with 200 pigs waiting. Within three weeks, there will be around 1000. Forced to bring them out at 130 kg carcass instead of 110 or 120, space is starting to run out and the animals must consume more feed per kilo of gain. And since Audrey and Guillaume are paid based on food conversion, they find themselves at a disadvantage. But they don't want to complain. They know that if they had been independent breeders, they would have already gone bankrupt.

Instead, the couple are happy to have established their business before starting out as a family. Audrey, who during the interview gives water to Jacob, their first born eight months old, says that it would have been very difficult to undertake both projects at the same time. “A few years ago, we were too busy with the farm. Today, we have the time to fully experience this beautiful moment. » We wish them many more!

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