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Wednesday, 05 October 2016 14:18

Lethbridge College addressing risky business

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Agriculture is much more than raising a few animals or growing some crops to feed the family. It is one of Alberta’s largest renewable resource-based industries, bringing millions into the province. However, like any business, agricultural businesses come with risk.

Lethbridge College recognized the need to help industry tackle risks and formed a partnership with Alberta Cattle Feeders Association to develop the Agriculture Business Risk Management (AGBRM) Program as the first initiative within the Cor Van Raay Southern Alberta Agribusiness Program.
According to Lyndsay Smith, industry liaison with Lethbridge College, one of the program goals was to increase engagement with industry.
“It was a priority from the onset to get industry input to ensure the curriculum met current needs. We wanted to target post-secondary graduates with skills needed in industry, while also providing an opportunity for those in the industry to increase their knowledge in business risk through professional development.”
As a result, Alberta Beef Producers, Alberta Barley, Alberta Canola Producers Commission, Alberta Pork, Alberta Wheat and the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation joined as partners to support this program.

With industry-vetted courses and additional support from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA), the AGBRM program simulates existing industry practices and prepares learners for the real world.
The program offers online credit courses only, which eliminates geographical boundaries and time restrictions as registrants can access the program from any location at any time. In addition, the flexible enrolment options allow students to register for the entire program or specific modules based on the skill set they are seeking. Enrollment takes place monthly, which allows students flexibility to choose which months fit their schedules. Each course is made up of four modules (3 credit course) or two modules (1.5 credit course) and takes one month to complete. Successful completion of the required courses results in an Advanced Education-approved Certificate in Agriculture Business Risk Management.
According to Smith, registrants are diverse in industry experience and backgrounds, including recent graduates and experienced industry veterans.
“We have received great positive feedback about the program’s flexibility, with many immediately applying what they learned in the program directly to their businesses,” she said.
Michelle Normand, ALMA Senior Manager, Industry and Market Development, recognizes the benefits of the AGBRM program.
“Industry needs have changed as the family farm transitioned into larger businesses. Being proactive and addressing these some of these changes with a risk management plan will help strengthen the industry as a whole.”
The program is designed to benefit the entire meat, livestock and grain sectors of Alberta’s economy.

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