There’s perhaps no field in Canada under going such an exciting and transformative change as the agri-food sector. Experts predict that by 2050, global food production will need to increase by almost 70% if we are to feed the world’s ever-expanding population. Those working in agriculture and the agri-food sector in Canada, as elsewhere, need to be aware of the increasing diversity of issues and opportunities that affect food production and food security. While nothing ever did really operate in isolation, the connectivity and increasing complexity of the global food industry today requires us to apply a different lens to the food value chain, from primary food production to consumer-demand and consumption. Technology, transport and logistics, climate change and carbon footprints, food quality and traceability, animal welfare, and ‘alternative’ proteins, or globalisation and food security, to name a few, are all in play.
In an effort to address the many ‘business’ opportunities and constraints linked to agriculture and the agri-food industry, the Dhillon School of Business at the University of Lethbridge developed a new agri-business program entitled “Agricultural Enterprise Management.” Through the very generous support of Dr. Cor van Raay and the Alberta Government, the Dhillon School launched the new program in September 2019 as part of its Bachelor of Management degree, designed to develop graduates with an enhanced understanding of the business aspects of agriculture and agri-food management, both at home and abroad.
There are more jobs in agri-business than there are graduates to fill those jobs.Dr. Kerry Godfrey, Dean of the Dhillon School of Business
The goal of the program is to promote the business aspects of agriculture and the agri-food sector. It is designed to introduce students to new technologies which will enhance productivity on the farm; to explore the adaptation of systems and business processes which help simplify traceability and strengthen food security; and to look more closely at how the core functional areas of business (i.e. finance, operations accounting, HR, marketing, and strategy) are best employed and adapted to help this critical industry thrive.
“Our program is designed to further enhance the ‘business of food,’ and produce graduates ready to meet the needs and challenges of the global food industry,” says Dr. Kerry Godfrey, Dean of the Dhillon School of Business. “There are more jobs in agri-business than there are graduates to fill those jobs. Our program is intended to respond to that demand, and provide graduates ready to take on the challenge, locally, nationally, and around the world.”
With its special focus on experiential learning, another way the University of Lethbridge Dhillon School of Business prepares students for opportunities in agri-food management is through its annual Cor Van Raay Agri-business Case Competition. Operated in partnership with Lethbridge College, this competition brings teams of students together from across the Prairies to examine an agri-business problem and present their solutions to a panel of agri-food experts. “Agri-business is a multi-billion-dollar industry with huge potential for business students. As an ag innovation hub, Southern Alberta is the perfect place to learn about the business of food and food production. Agri-business is an exciting and continually evolving industry with a bright future in Canada,” says Godfrey.