Greenhouse Canada

News Business Management
University of Guelph launches new farm business program

January 19, 2022  By University of Guelph

The University of Guelph (U of G) has introduced a new free online certificate course aimed at helping farmers make better agribusiness decisions.

U of G’s new “Foundations in Agricultural Management” online certificate course will allow farmers, and especially younger producers, to brush up on their farm business management skills. Registration opened January 17 and will be offered four times a year.

Through eight 20-minute video modules recorded with experts, participants will learn basics of business planning, finance, human resources, risk management, farm family transitions and farmer mental health and resilience.


The new learning opportunity is funded by a three-year, $1.25-million donation from the RBC Foundation with support from Farm Credit Canada (FCC).

(Dr. Rene Van Acker)

“Within the agricultural industry, producers are actively seeking resources to support them as their farm operations become larger and more complex,” said Ontario Agricultural College dean Dr. Rene Van Acker. “I am confident that this course will equip producers with the knowledge and resources they need to run successful farm operations for generations to come.”

Organizers anticipate that a total of 50,000 producers will take part in at least one module over the next two years.

Modules included are as followed:

  • Business planning and strategy: Dr. Mike von Massow, Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics (FARE)
  • Financial literacy: Dr. Richard Vyn, FARE, and Ken McEwan, Ridgetown Campus
  • Human resource management: Dr. Sara Mann, Department of Management
  • Risk management: Dr. Getu Hailu, FARE
  • Family farm transition planning: Dr. Alfons Weersink, FARE, and Dr. Julia Christensen Hughes, formerly dean of the Lang School
  • Mental health and resilience: Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton, Department of Population Medicine

Participants may view modules at their own pace and must complete a short quiz before moving to the next section.

“This new course is intended to help farmers make better agribusiness decisions,” said Dr. John Cranfield, associate dean (external relations) in U of G’s Ontario Agricultural College (OAC).

Cranfield said the modules are intended to ensure that farm operators understand the fundamentals of business operations, underpinning a skilled workforce in this sector while giving farmers the knowledge and confidence to achieve desired growth.

Among the topics, he expects family transitions and mental health will attract plenty of interest.

“Family farm transition is one of the biggest issues in Canadian agriculture right now. We know that many farmers are thinking about passing on the family farm to the next generation. Conversations about succession planning can be really stressful and challenging for all farm family members.”

The format is modelled after a personal finance course developed by RBC along with McGill University.

Print this page


Stories continue below