As a result of “changes to its funding structure,” the Agri-Food Management Institute (AMI) — a Guelph-based organization supporting farm and other agri-businesses with resources, workshops and training — has announced it will cease operations by April 30.
AMI’s resources will now be hosted by two other organizations.
Why it matters: AMI was one of only a few sources of farm management training in the province.
The non-profit organization has been operating for a decade, offering programs such as the Beginning Farmer Workshop, Advance Farm Management, and Transition Smart.
Ashley Honsberger, executive director for AMI, says ownership of the organization’s resources is transferring to Farm Management Canada — a national group that develops and delivers resources, information, and tools for farm businesses — and Food Processing Skills Canada, which does the same in the food and beverage industry. The former will now host AMI’s online business management tools, resources and workshops. The latter will take over the online management tools aimed at processors.
As detailed in the press release Farm Management Canada has partnered with AMI on various projects in the past. Food Processing Skills Canada has effectively grown its training platform over the past several years and AMI’s online materials will complement existing resources.
“Each of those organizations has a mandate to help increase capacity at the business level with agri-food businesses,” says Honsberger.
Honsberger says AMI began as a project with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and grew into a stand-alone non-profit institute. The organization was designed through a partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, as well as a separate group of farmers. It’s originally farm-focused mandate eventually expanded to include food and beverage processing businesses.
Funding came from both the provincial and federal governments through Growing Forward 1 and 2, which were divided at 60 per cent from the federal government, and 40 per cent from the province.
Every province has a CAP agreement in place, she says. Each province identifies areas of priority and accordingly creates programs, funding pots, and so on.
“Various groups in the agri-food sector receive Transfer Payment Agreements to provide services, deliver programs, and create projects on behalf of OMAFRA. So OMAFRA administers CAP funds this way. Ontario was the only province to have an organization like AMI to deliver on the business management mandate in such a way,” Honsberger says.
Neil Currie, general manager for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) says funding for AMI was likely withdrawn after the provincial government determined cuts to transfer payments would help the deficit. AMI’s funding happened to rely on one of the targeted transfer payments.
Currie adds that, while the OFA was not directly involved with the organization, it supports AMI’s mandate and programs. Should it have been necessary for the longevity of those programs, taking on management of AMI’s resources was discussed.
“That agreement ended,” says Currie. “We’re glad (AMI’s programs) are going to stay in place. We didn’t want to see that die.”