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COURSES AND PROGRAMS TO HELP YOU GET STARTED IN AGRICULTURAL BUSINESS
BY EDITH OLSON, P. Ag.
Do you want to get into the business of agriculture? Or are you in it already but need to add a specific skill? Agriculture is a big business, involved in local, regional, provincial, national and international markets. To be effective in the world of agricultural business, you do not have to have a background in farming or ranching, although that can be a benefit. Indeed, a world of opportunity awaits those from any background who are interested and willing to learn.
So what do you need? A high-school diploma would be a great start. An interest in and aptitude for numbers would be good too. We’re not talking about trigonometry and algebra, but about the mathematical skills you’ll need to understand finance, markets, currency and economics. An aptitude for numbers will also help you develop skills in how statistics are used in the world of business. If you’ve got an interest in policy and government operations, you’ll be well prepared to immerse yourself in learning more about how they interact with agricultural business and your bottom line. And having a handle on the business end is great, but you’ll also need to develop skills in communication so you can work effectively in a team, whether your colleagues and partners are in the next room or across the world.
There are a number of post-secondary programs that will help you gain the knowledge and skills to get ahead in the world of agricultural business. The best programs have industry involvement in the design and delivery of the curriculum. It says a lot when industry partners and agencies step up to help fund new programming aimed at helping those who want to get into the industry or add to the business acumen they already have. Cor Van Raay, one of Alberta’s beef-production icons, saw this as so crucial that he provided a considerable donation to launch new programming that had buy-in from industry. He’s not alone, as government agencies and cereal, oilseed and pork producers have also put their funds into program development to make sure that training meets the needs of industry.
You might be wondering how to fit coursework in agricultural business into an already busy schedule. Maybe you don’t live near a post-secondary institution and are wondering how you can access the information you seek. Some post-secondary institutions have broken up courses into smaller pieces called modules. By taking the modules one at a time, you can complete a course. To help you learn where you live, and fit in learning around the other things you do with your life, these modules may be offered online. They have time limits for completion that are reasonable. For example, you may want to take only one module to meet a professional development skill. However, if you want course credits, you will need to take all the modules in the course.
While you learn, you’ll have access to qualified instructors, many of whom have worked or are working in the industry. These instructors will help you achieve success in the module, course or program you enrol in.
You might be wondering if taking modules or courses will work for the aspect of agricultural business you are working in or want to get into. Agricultural business programs have content applicable across the livestock, grain, oilseed, finance and marketing sectors.
So what are you waiting for? Whether your goal is to improve your skill set or you are just starting off in agricultural business, check out the programs available to you at post-secondary institutions across the Prairies. Pick a program that has a solid tie-in with industry and that delivers current and meaningful material in a way that works for you and meets industry needs. Ask questions if you need more information. Welcome to the wonderful and exciting world of agricultural business.