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Buying a Farm in Canada: What You Need to Know

Farming is Canada’s primary industry and there are plenty of resources available to those attempting a career in agriculture

In terms of agriculture, Canada is a world leader. It’s one of the largest producers and exporters of farm produce globally and the industry is vital to the country’s economy.

From its main crop of wheat, grown primarily on the prairies, to the fruit farms and vineyards of the lush Okanagan Valley and the dairy farms of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – there is something for every potential farmer.

Grains and oilseeds make up the majority of the domestic and export market at 34 percent, with livestock coming in at 24 percent. In terms of domestic supply, dairy farms make up 12 percent of the market, horticulture 9 percent and poultry and eggs 8 percent.

A report released by Statistics Canada has revealed that the number of farms in Canada is dropping, but their square-footage, along with the average age of farmers is rising.

 The report, based on data extracted from the 2011 agricultural census, revealed a fall in farm numbers of 74,000 between 1991 and 2011 and an increase in the average farm area from 80 hectares to 315. The reason for this is thought to be that individual farms are being consolidated as older operators retire.

With these trends looking set to continue, and the average age of farm operators having increased over the period from 47.5-54.0, it’s reasonable to assume that there will be a boost in the numbers of farm assets on the market at some point in the near future.

Whilst this will provide opportunities for existing farm owners, there will also be more windows for beginner farmers to get into the industry.

So what does an aspiring Canadian farmer need to know?

Training

If you are thinking of going into farming,whether that be buying a farm business or buying a farm and starting from the ground up,  you will need to settle on a sector and obtain the relevant training to start up and make the most of new innovations. The following agencies offer a wealth of information:

The Canadian Association of Diploma in Agriculture and the Canadian Faculties of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine provide comprehensive information on institutions that offer agricultural programs.

 Agritalent offers a national database of learning opportunities in agriculture.

 Farm Link is a great resource for new farmers – matching them with established farmers for mentoring relationships, business relationships, employment or land transfers.

The Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training in Ontario places prospective new farmers in internships on farms within the province.

 Farm Credit Canada offers free events – from webinars and workshops to farming expositions.

Funding and Insurance

The Advance Payments Program offers producers a cash advance on the value of their agricultural goods. This enables farmers to improve cash flow, meet financial obligations  and benefit from the best market conditions. The government guarantees the repayment of the loans, enabling borrowers to benefit from better interest rates.

 AgriInvest is a self-managedsavings account with contributions being matched from federal, provincial and territorial governments. It allows farmers to set money aside for income shortfalls, or to invest in on-farm risk management.

 AgriInsurance protects farmers from the financial repercussions of production losses called by natural hazards such as hail, drought, floods and disease.

 Canadian Agricultural Loans Act Program offers farmers loans, guaranteed by the federal government, of up to $500,000 for the purchase of land, building repair and/or consolidation and refinancing.

Ian and Diana Zeeuw are a husband and wife that own and run a farm in Ontario.

According to them, you should, "Submit a business plan to Farm Credit Canada with an application for funding. You can also approach your local development corp or even the Business Development Bank."

Support and Resources

Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum provides a multi-faceted educational and development opportunities for young and fledgling farmers across Canada. They offer conferences, management workshops and contribute funding and support to 11 provincial and territorial organisations. They also connect young agriculture producers across the country with the aim of creating a ‘powerful network of young farm leaders’.

Farm Management Canada is an organisation with a wealth of resources aimed at enabling Canadian farmers to home their management skills. They cover all aspects of running a farm including business and financial planning, business structures and agreements, human resources, health and safety, marketing and succession planning.

Community Information Database is a web-based resource which provides over 900 up to date socio-economic and demographic indicators.

Canadian Agricutural Human Resource Council is involved in the research and development of solutions to the challenges in employment and skills development in modern Canadian farming.

Canadian Agricultural Safety Association is a non-profit organisation which seeks to improve health and safety for farmers, their families and workers.

New farmers are vital to the rejuvenation and progression of Canadian farming and, although there are challenges, many young people are entering the sector with innovative ideas and business strategies, respect for the environment and an entrepreneurial spirit.

The advice that Ian and Diana give is threefold, "Firstly, start off with a solid business plan based on an evaluation of need in your area. Secondly, if you know you will require a source of funds, line it up before you start by presenting your business plan to, and receiving approval from, a farm-related financial institution."

"And my third piece of advice: buying an established farm is usually more financially feasible than trying to build a new one - even if you plan to adapt it to match your own unique plan."

Interested? Check out our Canadian Farms for sale at BusinessesForSale.com



Nicky Tatley

About the author

Nicky contributes articles to all titles in the Dynamis stable, primarily BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com and is a regular contributor to other business publications including Talk Business, Bdaily.co.uk and NuWire Investor.

@Be_TheBoss

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