New free farm business planning program available for Cdn. farmers

New free farm business planning program available for Cdn. farmers
Jan 19, 2022

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The University of Guelph is offering the program

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A new free program is available for Canadian farmers to help them with multiple facets of operating a farm business.

The University of Guelph (U of G) with support from Farm Credit Canada and Royal Bank of Canada, created the Foundations in Agricultural Management program.

The online certificate program, which opened for registrations Jan. 17, is made up of eight 20-minute video modules featuring U of G professors discussing various topics including business planning basics, human resources, risk management and mental health.

“Everyone who has been involved sees the value in this for Canadian agriculture and how we can support Canadian farms and farm families,” Dr. John Cranfield, associate dean of external relations at the U of G’s Ontario Agricultural College, told

The modules and their instructors are as follows:

1. Business Planning & StrategyDr. Mike von Massow
2. Financial Literacy IDr. Richard Vyn
3. Financial Literacy IIKen McEwan
4. Managing Your Most Valuable Asset - Your PeopleDr. Sara Mann
5. Risk ManagementDr. Getu Hailu
6. Family Farm Transition Planning IDr. Alfons Weersink
7. Family Farm Transition Planning IIDr. Julia Christensen Hughes
8. Managing Mental Health & Building ResilienceDr. Andria Jones-Bitton

The program is open to all farmers across Canada and there is a French version available.

The U of G will offer the course four times this year:

  • January to March
  • April to June
  • July to September
  • October to December

Participants study the modules at their own pace and must complete a short quiz before starting the next one.

The goal of the program is to help Canadian farmers make better agribusiness decisions.

What that means depends on the individual operation, Cranfield said.

“The first step to making a better business decision is to have a plan,” he said. “Our first module teaches the basics of business planning. It’s not just about doing things but looking at what the effects of those actions are. But if you’re a farm with employees, that plan might be different. So that’s where our human resource management module would be ideal.”

The last module in the program focuses on mental health and is delivered by Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton, who has been studying mental health in the ag community since 2017.

Placing the mental health module at the end was a conscious decision, Cranfield said.

“Some of the conversations brought up in the other modules may be uncomfortable,” he said. “We provide tools and resources in the mental health module to help farmers understand that it’s okay not to be okay and it’s okay to need help.”

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