Seeds of Change
Shifting Diets and Soil Carbon Sequestration Markets: How Climate Change is Driving New Opportunities and Risks in Agriculture

Farm Management Canada is pleased to announce the release of “Seeds of Change – Shifting Diets & Soil Carbon Sequestration Markets: How Climate Change is Driving New Opportunities and Risks in Agriculture”.

Climate Change is driving shifts in Canadian agriculture and food consumption at an increasingly rapid pace, introducing new opportunities and risks that were unanticipated just a few years ago. Traditional forecasting methods fail when the future looks nothing like the past. How best then, to manage risk when faced with this kind of uncertainty? Farm Management Canada’s Roots to Success project responded to this challenge by undertaking a foresight exercise focused on farms and ranches.

Weak signals or seeds of change are defined in foresight analysis as the first indicators of change that may become significant in the future.  Members of Farm Management Canada’s National Risk Management Roundtable participated in a horizon scan exercise that identified 8 weak signals driven by climate change. Two of these signals were identified as priorities by Roundtable members:

  • Canadians are shifting their diet to include more fruit, vegetables and non-animal protein alternatives (for both health and environmental reasons); and
  • Soil carbon sequestration markets will become an opportunity for the agriculture sector.

In the report, both priority signals were then used to build future scenarios that indicate potential outcomes should the signal become the norm. Resulting opportunities and risks to farmers and ranchers were then identified, along with recommendations for support strategies that Farm Management Canada, other similar organisations, and governments can provide.

For more information, contact:
Mathieu Lipari, Program Manager
Farm Management Canada

Farm Management Canada wishes to recognize the Government of Canada’s contribution to this project.

The Path Forward: Supporting the Farm Business Management Needs of Indigenous Farmers

Following the success of “Dollars and Sense: Measuring the Tangible Impacts of Beneficial Business Practices on Canadian Farms” and “Healthy Minds, Healthy Farms: Exploring the Connection Between Mental Health and Farm Business Management”, Farm Management Canada, with the support of Bayer and Canadian Canola Growers’ Association is pleased to release a new research report that will increase awareness of the needs of indigenous agricultural producers and how to support their farm business management needs.

“Indigenous Agriculture and Agri-Food: The Path Forward – Supporting the Business Management Needs of Indigenous Producers” The number of Indigenous agricultural producers in Canada is growing rapidly. To better serve these producers, we worked with the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council to engage with indigenous producers operating farm businesses across the country to learn more about their management needs. The final report provides 5 broad areas and 15 recommendations for all producers, as well as farm business management professionals at all levels to improve the agri-business sector for all, including increased access to capital, new and improved educational opportunities, and increasing market access.

“The Path Forward” was made possible by the generous participation of indigenous agricultural business owners from coast-to-coast who participated in surveys, focus groups, and interviews creating a rich picture of the current state of their farm businesses and what they need to create a robust business management plan or enhance their business management strategy.
This investigation highlights two notable pieces of information. The first being there is desire from indigenous producers for more business management training. Secondly, this study confirms the findings of other reports showing the growing number of indigenous people in agriculture working to build community, economic opportunity, and food self-determination.

The report identified five high-level recommendations with specific recommendations under each. The five recommendations are:

  1. Build Lasting Relationships with Indigenous Communities
  2. Increase Awareness of and Access to Indigenous Agricultural Opportunities and Support Programs
  3. Enhance Indigenous Educational Opportunities
  4. Expand Indigenous Support Services
  5. Enhance Indigenous Research and Analysis

Recognizing the growth of First Nations and Metis people in agriculture in the last decade, Farm Management Canada contracted the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council with the guidance of their Indigenous Advisory Council and was generously supported by Bayer, Farm Credit Canada, and the Canadian Canola Growers Association.

Click here to access the report.

For more information, contact:
Heather Watson, Executive Director
Farm Management Canada

Farm Management Canada would like to thank the project partners:

Farm Women Study

Understanding the Experience of Farm Women

Much has been said about the role of women on the farm, but little has been measured. CentricEngine Inc. and Farm Management Canada are undertaking an important and timely research project that will serve as a benchmark, a guide and a view into the future and opportunities of a critical, underrepresented segment of Canada’s farming population: farm women. Our goal is to gain a better understanding so that we can create a path forward to meet the unique current and future needs of this target group.

The research is to replace stereotypes and anecdotal information with an accurate and actionable picture of farm women. The results will provide a comprehensive baseline of understanding of the roles, status, barriers and potential of women involved in farming.

The research will cover:

  • Participation/leadership in decision-making
  • Participation/leadership in specific farm management tasks
  • Participation/leadership in specific operational tasks
  • The current experience of farm women
    • Perceived level of recognition by internal and external stakeholders
    • Perceived barriers and constraints to further participation/leadership
  • Goals for the operation
  • Personal goals of farm women
  • Advisors and influencer relationships

Click here to access the full project proposal and opportunities to support our research.

Farm Management Canada would like to thank the project partners:

Healthy Minds, Healthy Farms

Exploring the Connection Between Mental Health and Farm Business Management

The conversation around improving the mental health of all Canadians has been elevated in recent years. In recognition of the contribution of farmers to the Canadian economy, support for farm businesses continues to be delivered across the country through federal, provincial and territorial governments; not-for-profit organizations; and community groups.

The mental health of Canada’s farmers as it relates to farm business management is of critical economic, and public health importance. That is why Farm Management Canada, along with its partners, has been working to improve our understanding of the relationship between mental health and farm business management. More specifically, to highlight how mental health can be supported through farm business management, and how farm business management can contribute to positive mental health.

Mental Health in Agriculture Updates:

Farm Management Canada would like to thank the project partners:

Dollars and Sense Study

How can we increase the adoption of business management practices on Canada’s farms?

While we realize most farmers didn’t get into farming to be business managers, we know farm business management matters.

A ground-breaking 2015 study titled Dollars and Sense revealed the success of any farm enterprise, regardless of size, production sector, or location is directly related to the business management practices of the farm manager. According to this research, top farm managers are dedicated to continual learning, carefully monitor and use their financial data to make business decisions and are 30% more likely to consult with business advisors. They are 50% more likely to have and follow a formal business plan, monitor and use their costs of production to inform decisions, assess and manage their risks, and have a sound financial plan that includes budget goals. Farmers who adopt business management practices were proven to increase their profitability by up to 525%.

Click here to access the 2015 study.


2020 Dollars and Sense Study Update

It has been 5 years since the first Dollars and Sense study. In 2020, we wanted to take a deeper dive into understanding the barriers and drivers of adopting farm business management practices on Canada’s farms, and how we can help.

The Dollars and Sense Study Update surveyed over 700 farmers from across Canada, farm types and farm size.

Findings reveal the rate of adoption for the vast majority of business management practices has dropped over the past 5 years, including those practices that were found to have the greatest impact on farm financial performance in 2015.

While the ability to read and use Financial Statements continues to have the highest rate of adoption at 63%, this has declined significantly since 2015 (73%), and having a formal plan for human resource management continues to have the lowest adoption, now at 12% (compared to 20% in 2015).

The following table demonstrates how the adoption of farm business management practices has changed over the past 5 years:




Having a clear vision and goals for the farm* 43% 31%
Communicating plans and the direction of the farm with key stakeholders 39% 39%
Having a written business plan that is reviewed and updated at least once per year* 26% 22%
Having a budget and plan for each enterprise within the farm that is reviewed regularly* 73% 63%
Calculating, reviewing, monitoring cost of production for benchmarking and decision-making 33% 33%
Having an in-depth understanding of financial statements to monitor progress* 50% 48%
Having a structured approach to financial planning to ensure sufficient capital to withstand changes to the business environment 51% 43%
Following markets closely and having a marketing plan to track pricing goals and targets 36% 35%
Having a formal risk management plan and procedures in place to assess and manage risk* 51% 42%
Having a collaborative relationship with suppliers and customers 32% 29%
Having a well-developed human resource management plan outlining responsibilities and compensation that is reviewed regularly to meet changing business needs 20% 12%
Having a form farm transition or succession plan that has been communicated to those involved in the farm business and is reviewed regularly when major changes occur 27% 26%
Using farm business advisors to help meet business objectives* 32% 23%
Actively seeking learning and skills development opportunities to meet the changing needs of the business* 49% 41%

*Indicates the 7 practices of Canada’s top performing farms in 2015.

Study findings reveal the greatest barriers to implementing farm business practices are:

  1. Farmers feel the farm is succeeding without them
  2. Aging/retiring farmers feel it’s too late to benefit
  3. Farmers don’t have the time
  4. Farmers don’t know where to start
  5. Getting others on board with adopting more formal business practices

Lack of communication skills is the greatest barrier to engaging others in farm business management activities.

The greatest motivators to implementing farm business practices are:

  1. To increase profitability
  2. To manage risk
  3. To prepare for farm transfer/retirement
  4. To reduce stress and anxiety and improve quality of life
  5. To improve our family/farm team harmony

Farmers who regularly work with farm advisors, young farmers, female farm operators, farmers in Quebec, horticultural operations and larger farms are more likely to implement farm business management practices. With the exception of larger farms, these farmers are also most likely to access support programs and services offered by the Ministries of Agriculture.

This research reinforces the need for Farm Management Canada to continue to champion a better understanding and use of business management practices on Canada’s farms.

Following are the recommendations derived from our findings:

  • Redefine the value of farm business management by redefining what success looks like. Success can be both business-focused and/or personal
  • Create messages targeted to different segments – by age, gender and farm type that would better resonate with a specific group regarding the value and importance of each business management practice
  • Investigate reasons behind Quebec’s higher adoption rates of these business management practices and how these lessons can be disseminated across other provinces
  • Increase accessibility and availability of risk management and scenario planning tools that can help farmers prepare for the uncertainty they will face in the future or to manage the long-term impact the pandemic could have on farms.
  • Champion the use of Farm Business Advisors
    • Develop communication guides for understanding what farm business advisors can offer farmers
  • Develop new resources for farmers including communication guides for various business management topics that farmers could reference to improve confidence in communicating about business management practices with family, employees and farm business advisors.

These research findings are critical for informing government policy, resource allocation, and how we can continue to support and promote the benefits of farm business management while addressing the barriers to adoption and implementation.

Click here to read the full report.

For more information contact:
Heather Watson, Executive Director
Farm Management Canada

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