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Agribusiness Management
FRE 515
Instructor: Karen Taylor, PhD, MBA, P.Ag
Office: MacMillian Building
Office Hours: before or after class,

or by appointment

Class Schedule: Before Feb Reading Break

Mons 2:30-5:30 pm

After Feb Reading Break

Mons: 2:30-4:00 pm

Weds 2:30-4:00 pm

Classroom: MCML 154
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Course Information

Instructor: Karen W. Taylor, PhD, MBA, P.Ag.


Cell: 778-875-0385

Class Time:

Part 1: January 9th – February 17th, 2023

Mondays: 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm (MCML 154)

Part 2: February 27th – April 7th, 2023

Mondays: 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm (MCML 154)

Wednesdays: 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm (MCML 154)

Fridays: 9:00 am – 2:00 pm Site Visits – details TBD. We intend on going on 4 site visits.

Office Hours: upon request

Office: 3rd floor MCML or via Zoom (upon request of student)

Website: UBC Canvas

Course Description

FRE 515, Agribusiness Management, is a course in agribusiness management designed specifically for Master of Food and Resource (MFRE) students. This course can be taken by students with or without previous business experience. Topics covered include: accounting, finance, valuation, marketing, operations and production management, leadership, sustainability, and overall evaluation/analysis 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 influence the overall management of agribusinesses.

Learning Outcomes

After this course, students will be able to:

  • analyze financial statements to make informed observations and recommendations.
  • understand the profit function and how to identify areas of profit maximization and cost minimization.
  • evaluate production / manufacturing practices in an agribusiness to find areas of improvement that will maximize efficiencies.
  • critically examine a business to determine its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • use a variety of methodologies to determine a valuation of a business.
  • explore how agribusinesses expand and source capital.
  • understand the importance of innovation, leadership, and sustainability of the agribusiness sector.
  • appreciate the critical role that the uniqueness of agriculture plays in a business.
  • visit succession agribusiness operations and learn from ownership / management about running a succession operation (challenges, opportunities, etc.)
  • have an overall better understanding of agriculture and food business in Canada, and how they fit into the national & global framework of the industry.

Evaluation Plan

Activity Percent of Grade
Class & Site Visit Participation Throughout the term 15%
Assignments 6 (Best 5 of 6 assignments) Throughout the term 25%
Midterm View schedule online 20%
Group Presentation View schedule online 10%
Final Exam View schedule online 30%
Total: 100%

Course Material & Learning Resources

Class Notes: Class notes (in online format) will be available on the Canvas website prior to class. You may 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 through Canvas.

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. These are sourced from Harvard Business Publishing and/or Ivey Publishing.

Course Policies: (Applicable to UBC MFRE Courses)

Respectfulness in the Classroom

Students are expected to be respectful of their colleagues at all times, including faculty, staff and peers. This means being attentive and conscious of words and actions and their impact on others, listening to people with an open mind, treating all MFRE community members equally and understanding diversity. Students who act disrespectfully toward others will be asked to leave the class and be marked as absent for the day. They may also be removed from a team, lose credit for in‐class assessments and activities, or be asked to complete a group assignment individually.

Respect for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The MFRE Program strives to promote an intellectual community that is enhanced by diversity along various dimensions including status as a First Nation, Métis, Inuit, or Indigenous person, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, political beliefs, social class, and/or disability. It is critical that students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives be valued in and well‐served by their courses. Furthermore, the diversity that students bring to the classroom should be viewed as a resource, benefit, and source of strength for your learning experience. It is expected that all students and members of our community conduct themselves with empathy and respect for others.

COVID‐19 Considerations

All students must assess themselves daily for COVID‐19 symptoms prior to coming to class. Please stay home if you exhibit symptoms or have tested positive for COVID‐19. A list of COVID‐19 symptoms can be found here . Use the BC Ministry of Health’s self‐assessment tool), to help determine whether further assessment or testing for COVID‐19 is recommended. Full UBC COVID‐19 Campus Rules can be found here . Note: Please stay home if you exhibit symptoms or have tested positive for COVID‐19 and immediately contact Olivier Ntwali, Academic Program Coordinator, your Course Instructor, and your Course Assistant.

Recordings and In‐Class Attendance

There is no required distribution of recordings of class. Recording will be provided based upon on the decision of the course instructor. Classes are designed as and are intended to be in‐person. Your attendance is expected. If you are unable to attend, the policy regarding missed classes described in the MFRE code of conduct and syllabus applies. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the materials you need for missed classes.

Writing Exams

All exams will be in-person and will follow MFRE exam protocol (See Student Portal). Exams may be online, e.g., in Canvas, but students must be physically present and invigilated. If a student is unable to write an exam, they must have a verifiable doctor’s note and must contact the Course Instructor, Course Assistant, and MFRE Program Coordinator before the scheduled exam date/time. Documentation must be provided to explain your absence. If the documentation is considered legitimate, the Course Instructor will let you know how to proceed.

Plagiarism Penalties

Academic dishonesty and plagiarism are taken very seriously in the MFRE program. All incidences of plagiarism will be escalated to the MFRE Academic Director. Incidences of academic misconduct may result in a reduction of grade, a mark of zero on the assignment/exams of concern, failing the course or program, escalation/referral to the Dean’s office and/or President’s Advisory Committee on Student Discipline, and/or expulsion from UBC. Note: If a MFRE student is required to extend his/her program due to failed course or unsatisfactory progress, they will need to pay the full MFRE tuition fees for that term(s) regardless of the number of courses that need to be retaken. It is each student’s responsibility to review and understand what constitutes academic dishonesty and plagiarism and how to avoid them. Review MFRE Code of Conduct, UBC academic dishonesty policies/penalties and course‐specific policies.

Turn it In Access for MFRE Courses: Internet‐based plagiarism detection service

Turn it in has been set up for MFRE courses. Submit all assignments/papers to this service and review similarity index reports. Turn it in Login (website). For instructions: See the Student Guide to MFRE Student Guide To Setting Up And Using Turn It In on the Student Portal (website.). Use provided Class ID and Enrollment Key to access MFRE course folder, submit assignments/papers, and review similarity index reports.

Working with Others on an Assignment

You are encouraged to work with other students, but you must turn in your own individual assignment. If you have an answer that is too close to another student’s answer, this will be considered academic dishonest, and this will be managed according to the MFRE and UBC policies.

Missing Classes

Students are expected to attend all classes, labs, or workshops. If you cannot make it to a class, lab, or workshop due to a medical or personal emergency, please email your instructor, your course assistant, and Olivier Ntwali, MFRE Program Coordinator ahead of time to let them know. Students who miss classes regularly without a reasonable excuse may be subject to MFRE‐imposed penalties at the discretion of the Academic Director.

Centre for Accessibility

The Centre for Accessibility (CFA) facilitates disability‐related accommodations and programming initiatives designed to remove barriers for students with disabilities and ongoing medical conditions. If you are registered with the CfA and are eligible for exam accommodations, it is your responsibility to let Olivier Ntwali, Academic Program Coordinator, and each of your Course Instructors know. You should book your exam writing with the CFA using its exam reservation system: for midterm exams or quizzes, at least 7 days in advance; and final exams, 7 days before the start of the formal exam period.


All materials of this course (i.e., course handouts, lecture slides, assessments, course readings) are the intellectual property of the instructor or licensed to be used in this course by the copyright owner. Redistribution of these materials by any means without permission of the copyright holder(s) constitutes a breach of copyright and may lead to academic discipline and could be subject to legal action. Any lecture recordings are for the sole use of the instructor and students enrolled in the class. In no case may the lecture recording, or part of the recording be used by students for any other purpose, either personal or commercial. Further, audio or video recording of classes are not permitted without the prior consent of the instructor.

Academic Honesty

Academic dishonesty and plagiarism are taken very seriously in the MFRE program and can result in a range of punitive measures, which could include failing the program. It is each student’s responsibility to review and understand what constitutes academic dishonesty and plagiarism and how to avoid them.

Academic honesty is essential to the continued functioning of UBC as an institution of higher learning and research. All UBC students are expected to behave as honest and responsible members of an academic community. Breach of those expectations or failure to follow the appropriate policies, principles, rules, and guidelines of the University with respect to academic honesty may result in disciplinary action.

Academic misconduct that is subject to disciplinary measures includes, but is not limited, to the following:

  • Plagiarism, which is intellectual theft, occurs where an individual submits or presents the oral or written work of another person as his or her own. In many UBC courses, you will be required to submit material in electronic form. The electronic material will be submitted to a service which UBC subscribes, called TurnItIn. This service checks textual material for originality. It is increasingly used in North American universities. For more information, review TurnItIn website online.
  • Cheating, which may include, but is not limited to falsification of any material subject to academic evaluation, unauthorized collaborative work; or use of unauthorized means to complete an examination.
  • Submitting others work as your own, may include but not limited to i. using, or attempting to use, another student’s answers; ii. providing answers to other students; iii.  failing to take reasonable measures to protect answers from use by other students; or iv. in the case of students who study together, submitting identical or virtually identical assignments for evaluation unless permitted by the course instructor.
  • Resubmission of Material, submitting the same, or substantially the same, essay, presentation, or assignment more than once (whether the earlier submission was at this or another institution) unless prior approval has been obtained from the instructor(s) to whom the assignment is to be submitted.
  • Use of academic ghostwriting services, including hiring of writing or research services and submitting papers or assignments as his or her own.

Student Responsibility: Students are responsible for informing themselves of the guidelines of acceptable and non-acceptable conduct for examinations and graded assignments as presented via FRE code of conduct guidelines; course syllabus and instructors; and UBC academic misconduct policies, Review the following web sites for details:

Penalties for Academic Dishonesty: The integrity of academic work depends on the honesty of all those who work in this environment and the observance of accepted conventions. Academic misconduct is treated as a serious offence at UBC and within the MFRE program. Penalties for academic dishonesty are applied at the discretion of the course instructor. Incidences of academic misconduct may result in a reduction of grade or a mark of zero on the assignment or examination with more serious consequences being applied if the matter is referred to the Dean’s office and/or President’s Advisory Committee on Student Discipline. Note: If a student needs to extend his/her program due to a failed course or unsatisfactory progress, they will have to pay the full MFRE tuition fees for that term/s.

Resources: Review the following:

UBC Policies of Academic Honesty:

  • UBC Academic Misconduct and Discipline (website.)
  • UBC Learning Commons web‐based Academic Integrity (website)

Turn it In Access for MFRE Courses:

  • Turn it in Login (website) and Student Guide to MFRE Student Guide To Setting Up And Using Turn It In on the Student Portal (website)

Citing Sources:

  • UBC Learning Commons Citation Resource (website)
  • Purdue Lab How to Cite Sources (website)


  • Purdue University Plagiarism Overview (website)
  • SFU Avoiding plagiarism (website)

Course Schedule

Date Class Topics

January 9


  • Introduction to the course and discuss course outline
  • Introduction to Canadian Agriculture and resources available
  • Review of Understanding Financial Statements

January 16


  • Analyzing Financial Statements
  • Calculating Ratio Analysis & identifying key financial metrics
  • Issues affecting Agribusinesses (growing livestock, crops, etc.)
  • Information on supply managed industries – as a case study

January 23


  • Understanding the Profit Function; how to maximize profits, given the agricultural industry. Cash Flow, Break-even Analysis, Payback period
  • Impact of supply management system on how an agribusiness operates – how is it different than other competitive industries

Assign #1 Due


January 30


  • Begin next topic: Valuing an Agribusiness
  • How to analyze a business, the industry, the management team, etc.
  • Critically examining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a business.

February 6


  • Decision factors affecting the purchase and sale of a business.
  • Valuation vs. Appraisal

Assign #2 Due


February 13


  • Clarify Enterprise Value, FCF, etc.

Guest Lecturer details TBD: Valuing Securities


February 27


  • Review

Assign #3 Due


March 1



March 3


  • Potential Site Visit (details TBD)
Mon & Wed

March 6 & 8


  • Financing an Agribusiness (for purchase, expansion, merger, etc.)
  • Exploring sources and costs of capital
  • The role of debt, sub debt, mezz debt, equity investor, private equity firms, etc.
  • Collateral Discussion – what is taken for security to secure indebtedness

March 10


  • Potential Site Visit (details TBD)
Mon & Wed

March 13 & 15


  • Exploring short-term and long-term source of capital and capital requirements for agribusinesses.

Assign # 4 Due (Wed)


March 17


  • Potential Site Visit (details TBD)
Mon & Wed

March 20 & 22


  • Production Management - Management practices used in Agribusiness such as vertical integration, LEAN, JIT, etc.
  • Cost & benefits of LEAN and other production methods.

March 24


  • Potential Site Visit (details TBD)
Mon & Wed

March 27 & 29


  • Sustainable Leadership & Staff Management Sustainability, Innovation, Leadership discussions.

Assign #5 Due (Wed)


March 31


  • Innovation, Leadership, Building & Exiting an Agribusiness
  • Potential Site Visit / Guest Speaker (details TBD)
Mon & Wed

April 3 & 5


Group Presentations

Class Wrap Up

Final Exam Review & Discussion

Assign #6 Due (Wed)

Final Exam TBA (Exam Period April 17 – April 28)

We will schedule a review session prior to the Final Exam, if students would like.

This schedule will be updated as required.

Because there are several site visits, guest speakers, discussions with business owners, and changing working schedule, some classes may be rescheduled. Students will be advised in advance as the schedule changes.

Welcome to FRE 515!