Farmer’s Log

What is a day in the life of a young farmer really like?

Are We Obsessed with Change?

Life is full of change, and perhaps more so on a family farm than just about anywhere else. We are constantly faced with changing weather, changing markets (just look at what’s happened with cattle prices and oil prices the last few years!), not to even mention the changes we’re faced with as our kids get older, family dynamics change or someone’s health is suddenly a concern.

If you don’t think that human beings are obsessed with change, then just do a quick Google search on “change”, “change management”, or “change quotes” . . . and that should keep you busy for the rest of the weekend :).

We started thinking about how important change is in a family farm operation, and thought we’d share with you a few tidbits of wisdom from some experts and friends of ours. While we don’t have a choice in whether things change or not, we do have a choice in how we respond.  It is that choice that determines everything.


The Four Stages Of Change

by Elaine Froese

Elaine Froese has taken the Hudson Institute’s cycle of renewal model and applied it to the lives of farm families.  Take a look at where you’re at in these 4 Stages of Change, in both your personal and business life.
Life After Drastic Change

by Gregory Schroeder


Change Management Is Dead – A Blog Series by Unstoppable Conversations

Our friends Kevin Gangel and Vik Maraj at Unstoppable Conversations have been doing a great blog series, diving into the top 10 reasons that Change Management is Dead! Here is the first post in the 10 week series, and you can find the rest of the series from there.



Introduction to the Human Resource Risk Pillar of Your Farm Business

This is an introduction video for the Human Resource pillar in the “5 Pillars of Risk Management” series. Of all the risks that are associated with the farm business, human resource risk is the most important. Studies have shown that at least 80% of businesses do not transfer because of a communication or conflict issues, therefore it’s essential for you to ensure you understand the human resource risks on your farm operation.

Though large corporations have human resource departments and realize that this is a much needed component of their business, farmers often go at it alone without any human resource background at all. From employee reviews to how to navigate your way through the growth of your farm business, having a human resource plan in place can be a very valuable asset.

Watch Reg Shandro explain what a human resource risk is and what you can do to minimize it on your farm operation.

This workshop was funded in part by the Agriculture & Food Council of Alberta

Am I on the Right Path?

Our presenter Tim Wray discusses how you can know if you are on the right path.

Though Tim always had a lifelong dream of becoming a farmer he learned to reconcile this desire with the path he ended up taking (and loving) – becoming a pastor in small town Alberta. Tim talks about this journey and how the fruits of his labor were what helped him realize his path.


Am I on the Right Path?

Get the Conversation Going

Tim Wray encourages everyone to engage in meaningful conversations and learn how to get the conversation going. Conversation allows us to gain a sense of who we are, what we value, as well as how others view us and this clarity can lead to amazing potential between people.


Get the Conversation Going


What Matters in Small Towns

In a culture that is transient the connections between people can weaken a lot. In a simple project, Tim Wray shows us what matters in small towns –  sharing hopes, dreams and fears within the community helped Tim and other participants discover their shared values and helped rebuild the connections betweenthem.

The Young Adult Photovoice Project, led by Tim Wray, was funded in part by the Alberta Rural Development Network.  Their website has some great information about the Photovoice Project, as well as a Gallery of the photos and stories.  There is also a How-To Guide that’s worth checking out if you’re interested in doing a similar project in your community!


What Matters in Small Towns?


What it Means to be Human

In all relationships, it is important to have trust. Without trust, humanity cannot flourish, and creativity and productivity fails as well. To be human, is to allow those closest to us to be able to hurt us the most. Tim Wrayshares his thoughts on what is means to be human.

What it Means to be Human


Mitigating the Risks of Shareholder’s Loans in Your Farm Business

In any farming operation, whether incorporated or sole proprietorship, capital has to be put into the operations.

One sitution with an incorporated farm is when capital is required and a shareholder contributes assets or cash, sometimes the consideration that comes back to the shareholder is a shareholder loan (i.e. the farming operation owes the shareholder money). Therefore, it is prudent for the shareholder to become a secured shareholder, meaning they secure the loan the farming operation owes. This is important so that in the event the farm business needs to pay off creditors, the debt owed to the shareholder is secured, and thus will be paid off before any unsecured debts.

It is essential to remember that the key to mitigating any risk is to understand that you’re running a business. Even though it is your farm operation, it is still a business, and just as a prudent business person would want to secure a loan given to a corporation, you should also make sure you’re loan is secured when loaning to your incorporated farm.

Watch Tracy Hanson explain how to mitigate the risks of shareholder loans to your farming operation.

This workshop was funded in part by the Agriculture & Food Council of Alberta

Mitigating the Risks of Shareholder Loans in your Farm Business


Writing the Rules: Making Sure all Your Farm Business Partners are on the Same Page

One of the risks for a farming operation that is often overlooked is management and continuity of ownership. This is one of the reasons it is essential that whatever your business structure, you need to understand what the rules are.

Even if you’ve talked about it, and especially if you haven’t, writing down a partnership agreement or unanimous shareholders agreement, is a critical step for your farm business.

This will be a living document, meaning that as the farming business grows the document will evolve with it.

Don’t miss this important lesson from Tracy Hanson, Calgary lawyer, onthe importance of writing down the rules of your farm operation.
This workshop was funded in part by the Agriculture & Food Council of Alberta


3 Big Factors in Choosing a Legal Structure for Your Farm Business: Tax, Liability and Succession!

The first thing to be aware of is that all the legal structures are used on family farm businesses, and sometimes some families even use a combination of them. For example, it’s possible to have the farm operations incorporated but the land kept outside of the company and owed personally.

Tracy Hanson, lawyer at Walsh LLP in Calgary, discusses the three major factors for choosing a legal structure: tax, liability and succession.

With regards to tax, it’s possible to incorporate the farm operations, so that the company is then paying corporate tax rates. In Alberta, the corporate tax rate on the first $500,000 of income is 14%. For personal income, it’s 39%. So, when you have individuals with significant income, often the level of tax becomes a driving force for incorporation. Once incorporated you have 86 cent dollars to pay debt or expand. However, a downside to incoroporating is the complexity and extra administrative costs.

Whether or not your farm business fits into one structure or another is dependent on the type of farm business. There’s no magical answer to what structure fits for any given business or type of farm, simply because there are so many factors to consider.

This workshop was funded in part by the Agriculture & Food Council of Alberta