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Agribusiness Management
FRE 515
Instructor: Dr. Karen Taylor
Email: Phone: 604-897-2214
Office: MacMillian Room # TBD
Office Hours: Fridays 1:30 pm to 3:00pm (after class) or by appointment
Class Schedule: MacMillian Room # TBD
Classroom: MacMillian Room # TBD
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Course Description

This is a course in agribusiness management designed specifically for Master of Food and Resource (MFRE) students with or without previous business experience. Topics covered include accounting, finance, marketing, operations, production, industry trends, management, leadership, and overall evaluation of an agribusiness. This course will introduce students to the concepts, processes, and policies involved in the production and marketing of agriculture and food products and services as well as the financing of the agribusiness enterprise. Quantitative concepts such as accounting, valuation, and financial theories will be discussed, along with policies and regulations affecting agriculture and how they affect the overall management of agribusinesses.

Website: UBC Canvas

Course Goals

Students will further develop their understanding of agriculture and business; how the two must go together in order for agribusinesses to be successful. Students will analyze four cases (including four site visits and one guest lecture) to learn about agriculture and business from successful, sophisticated, and experienced agribusiness owners. This course is a unique opportunity for students to learn theory, see real world agribusinesses, and then use theory to enhance managerial decision-making in a variety of contexts. Student will get an opportunity to apply theories and techniques of agribusinessfirm management to analyze problems and issues of production, marketing, finance, information, technology, and environment.

Course Format

This is a Case Study based class. There will be four case studies. Each case will cover 3 weeks.

  • Week 1: Introduction of the case, explanation of the business, the industry, the theory, the issues, and discussion of the assignment.
  • Week 2: Site visit to the agribusiness (mandatory)
  • Week 3: Submit and discuss the assignment that is due.

Class Structure

The course will generally be structured as one 3-hour session per week that will include lectures, class discussions, presentations, and/or guest speakers. There will be four (4) site visits that require travel. Site visits will occur during class time but may go begin early and/or last late, to allow for travel time. There will also be one (1) guest lecture where students will not be required to travel.


Participation is extremely important in this class. Each student brings important, interesting, and unique real-world experience to class discussions. All students are expected to come to class having read the assigned reading material and cases in order to be ready and contribute to class discussions. Site visits are part of this class and are mandatory. Arrangements to transport students will be made in advance and shared with students. Classroom Conduct: Discussions will occur during class. This is important and valuable. Please feel free to ask questions. However, respect of others is required.


Activity Percent of Grade
Class Participation 15%
Midterm Exam 15%
Assignments 30%
Presentation 10%
Final Exam 30%
Total: 100%

Learning Assessment and Alignment

Learning Objective Assessment Strategy and Details
Students will be able to:
  1. "analyze production / manufacturing practices in an agribusiness to find areas of improvement that will maximize efficiencies"
  2. "understand the profit function and how to determine areas of profit maximization and cost minimization"
  3. "critically examine a business to determine its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats"
  4. "explore how agribusinesses expand and source capital"
  5. "appreciate the critical role that the uniqueness of agriculture plays in a business"

A. Class Participation (15%):

  • Participation of all students in attending lectures and site visits is critical.
  • Participation of all students in class discussions will with learning and is strongly encouraged.
  • The instructor will conduct quantitative and qualitative assessment of participation.

B. Midterm Exam (15%):

  • Exam to test students’ knowledge of theories and concepts covered in the first half of the course.

C. Assignments (30%):

  • Assignments help students learn the course objectives.
  • A total of five (5) assignments will be completed individually and in groups. Four (4) of the assignments will be graded, and will be in the form of written proposal, including calculations and recommendations.
  • Main criteria for assessment include: quality of written proposals, accuracy, critical thinking, and justification of solution.

D.Presentation (10%):

  • One presentation will be required from all students. These presentations will be in groups.
  • Main criteria for assessment include: quality of presentation, professionalism, critical thinking, team work, and recommendation.

E. Final Exam (30%):

  • Includes both quantitative and qualitative questions.
  • Consists of multiple-choice questions, written questions, and a case study that will require evaluation and recommendations.
  • Main criteria for assessment include: accuracy of answers, critical thinking, and clear evidence of learning.
  • Final Exam is cumulative.

Course Materials

Class Notes: Class notes (in online format) will be available on the website prior to class. You will need to print and bring these notes to class each time, or you may view them electronically in class. These notes will generally be in power point and only provide basic information. Additional notes will need to be taken by student during class. Reading Materials: A combination of theory and real world examples will be used in this class. Readings from a variety of textbooks will be made available to students to read and learn the theory. Case information will be provided to students, including information on the industry and the agribusiness.

There is no textbook required for this course. Articles, book chapters, etc. will be provided to students and posted online. Below is a list of textbooks that may be of interest, but any information presented will be given in the power points slides or posted online.

Source Textbooks:

  • Barnard, Freddie L., et al. Agribusiness Management (5th Edition). New York: Routledge, 2016.
  • Berk, Jonathan, et al. Fundamentals of Corporate Finance (Canadian Edition). Ontario: Pearson Education Inc., 2013. (or similar textbook)
  • Higgins, Robert C. Analysis for Financial Management (6th Edition). New York: Irwin-McGraw Hill, 2001.
  • Schmitz, Andrew, et al. Agricultural Policy, Agribusiness, and Rent-Seeking Behaviour (2nd Edition). Ontario: University of Toronto Press, 2010.

Case Studies: Case studies will be handed out to students during the term.


There will be five (5) written assignments that will need to be completed as part of this course. The first assignment will not be graded; it is for practice only. The remaining four (4) assignments will be graded. The assignments will focus on using the theory learned in class, applying it to the case study, and providing a recommendation to address the issue proposed.

  • Assignments are to be submitted in PDF format via Canvas. You can convert to PDF using a software system of your choice. One option is free using PrimoPDF printer ( It is your responsibility to ensure the document is readable and a reasonable size that it can be read and received by the Instructor.
  • Each assignment must be typed, should include a title page, and any sources used should be cited.
  • Due dates/times will be posted on the assignments. Solutions to assignments will be provided after the due date. There is no partial score for late submissions; you must submit assignments on time to receive credit. There will be no makeup assignments.
  • The student must complete assignments. Plagiarism will be handled according to the university policies.


Calculators should be brought to each class and are required for all exams. If you are unsure if your calculator is OK for use on the exam, be sure to check with the instructor prior to the midterm and final exam. You cannot use a cell phone during the exam.


Students are required to complete a presentation as part of this course. Presentations will be accompanied with power point slides, and report. The intention is to provide a formal, professional presentation of the subject material to the class. Critical analysis of the issue and a professional, well thought out recommendation will be the focus of the presentation. The presentation is to be done in groups. Groups will be selected near the beginning of the term. The presentation is to be no longer than 15 minutes in length, as well as 10 minutes for questions. The presentations will be based on a written case study (published by Harvard Business School or Ivey Business School) and will follow the general themes learned in class.

Academic Misconduct

Students are responsible for informing themselves of the guidelines of acceptable and unacceptable conduct. Please familiarize yourself with UBC’s policies on cheating, plagiarism, and academic misconduct. Teamwork is encouraged and students may work together on assignments and on the presentation. However, cheating of any kind will not be tolerated. Plagiarism and other forms of academic misconducts are treated as serious offences at UBC. UBC’s policy regarding Academic Misconduct can be viewed in the Academic Calendar at,54,111,959.

UBC is committed to providing an open, accountable, and respectful environment that fosters academic excellence. More information on the guidelines and policies that are relevant to the university's academic mission can be found online at:

Class Outline

Date Class Topics
January 12
  • Introduction to the course and agribusiness
  • Discuss course outline
  • Intro to Canadian Agriculture and the case studies
  • The organization of an agribusiness
  • Review of Understanding Financial Statements
January 19
  • Begin first topic: Issues affecting Agribusinesses growing livestock & Information on supply managed industries
  • Impact of supply managed system on how an agribusiness operate – how is it different than competitive industries
  • Understanding the Profit Function; how to max profit, given the industry
  • Analyzing Financial Statements
  • Calculating Return on Investment & Ratio analysis

Case Study: Supply-managed agribusiness

January 26 NO CLASS – This will be rescheduled during the term. (Practice Assignment will be given.)
February 2 Site Visit – Friday 9 am – 2pm (Layer Farm, Egg Grading Station & Egg Breaking Plant in Abbotsford, BC )
February 9

Assign #1 Due & Class Discussion

  • Begin next topic: Production Management
  • Management practices used in Agribusiness, such as LEAN
  • What are the costs & benefits of LEAN
  • How can LEAN be applied in agribusiness
  • Other production methods used by agribusinesses

Case Study: Agribusiness operation using LEAN production methods

February 16 Site Visit – Friday 9 am – 2pm (Nursery in Abbotsford, BC)
March 2

Assign #2 Due & Class Discussion

  • Begin next topic: How to value a company by analyzing the business, the industry, the management team, etc.
  • Critically examining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a business.
  • Decision factors affecting the purchase and sale of a business.
  • Exiting a business
March 9 Guest Lecture (UBC Campus)
  • Valuing Securities
  • Gordon Growth Model
March 16 Site Visit – Friday 9 am – 2pm (Mushroom Operation in Langley, BC)
March 23

Assign #3 Due & Class Discussion

  • Begin next topic: Determining whether to expand a business and how to finance the expansion
  • Calculating the cost to expand
  • Exploring the source of capital required for expansion
  • The role of debt, sub debt, mezz debt, equity investor, private equity firms, etc.
  • Cost and source of capital
  • Calculating Return on Investment

Case Study: Greenhouse Agribusiness

March 30 Site Visit – Friday 9 am – 2 pm (Large new state-of-the art greenhouse in Abbotsford, BC)
April 6 Assign # 4 Due

Group Presentations Class Wrap Up

Final Exam TBA (Exam Period April 9th – April 27th)

Note: The make-up class session will be determined within the first 2 weeks of class. This schedule will be updated as required.