Greenhouse Canada

Business Management
Tools for Strategic Planning

Guiding Farmers Through Risk Management, Contingency Planning

March 4, 2015
By Kathryn Forrest

The new Risk Management Toolkit helps farmers assess current risks to their farm operations.

In farming, risks are ever-present. An accident can change a life, poor business planning can slow growth, environmental changes can damage crops, and misunderstanding customers can stunt sales.

The Agri-food Management Institute (AMI), an Ontario organization that connects agri-food producers and processors with best business
management tools and resources, recently launched a Risk Management Toolkit in partnership with Farm Management Canada (FMC) to help farmers become more aware of risks and to give them the tools for strategic planning.

“Annual business planning and regular assessment paves the way for strong, efficient operations,” says Ryan Koeslag, executive director of AMI. “Risk management is a key component of the business plan that helps farmers achieve goals by visualizing their operation in five, 10, or 20 plus years.”


The new Risk Management Toolkit helps farmers assess current risks to their farm operations, identify opportunities for more effective management, and connect with contingency planning resources.

Farmers will see the best results when they use the Toolkit together with FMC’s Comprehensive Guide to Managing Risk in Agriculture. Both
resources were launched at FMC’s Agricultural Excellence Conference last fall.

“With a better understanding of risk, farm managers will be more likely to take the right risks, mitigate the bad, and continue to profit,” said Heather Watson, executive director of Farm Management Canada.

“These new resources equip farmers with the knowledge and tools to take calculated risks that support logical and effective decision-making in a timely manner.”

Taken together, the Guide and Toolkit capture both reactive and proactive approaches to risk management. While dealing with risky situations, users can access the Guide to assess appropriate next steps, or use the Toolkit at any time to evaluate their risks and preparedness for future scenarios.

The Toolkit features a Risk Assessment Spreadsheet, which evaluates risk by assigning scores to key areas of business based on the frequency of risk, magnitude of risk, and preparedness for managing risk. It also contains a Risk Management Action Plan Template to record risks that need attention and identify actions for managing them.  

The Toolkit is intended to be used on a yearly basis, included in the farm business plan, and its results are to be consulted regularly to prepare users for changing circumstances and continual improvement. Users are encouraged to share the results with their team for a collaborative, cohesive business improvement effort.

Throughout the year, AMI offers additional training workshops like the Advanced Farm Management Program to help farmers elevate their business management skills, and Challenge the Conversation 2.0 to strengthen communications skills in business relationships, and mitigate risks associated with poor communication.

  • To receive a copy of the Risk Management Toolkit or request information on AMI programs, contact AMI project coordinator Carolyn Dowling at 519-822-6618 or
  • For a copy of the Comprehensive Guide to Risk Management in Agriculture, contact FMC project manager Mathieu Lipari at 888-232-3262 or

Kathryn Forrest is the communications coordinator with AMI in Guelph, Ont.

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