GFM Network News


Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.

Editor’s Note: How will farms grow in the 2020s?

On the lip of the 2020s, it’s a question that deserves more than casual thought. And it needs more than one perspective, for there will be more kinds of success than ever in history

Reading Time: 2 minutes April Stewart writes in our December 2019 issue of Country Guide to tell us the proof is in. The more technological and digital a farm gets, the more important its leadership and its soft skills become. To a degree, it’s no surprise. Technology does many things, and the technology of the 2020s will do more of […] Read more

There’s a “million-dollar farm question” in Canadian agriculture as farm parents look to transfer a financially viable farm business to the next generation.

Calculating a fairer, smarter farm inheritance: Part Two

Alberta farm advisor Merle Good shares an innovative and tax-smart plan to encourage all your children to be patient investors with a portion of your land

Reading Time: 6 minutes Tom Button: In our previous article, you mentioned a methodology that allows for pooled ownership of farmland between family members. Why is this an objective? Merle Good: In agriculture we need to ask our children, are they willing to be patient capital investors? What this means is, if non-farm children are going to receive family […] Read more


Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.

Editor’s Note: Finding the next great idea

So often in any business sector, the key is to make a solid decision where to invest your willpower and your self. Decide which way to go, we feel, and we’ll get there for sure

Reading Time: 2 minutes It’s a great idea for a winter day. Make a list of at least five and as many as 10 farms that you know reasonably well and that you think have charted a good course, and ask yourself (a) what are the core ideas that they had, and (b), where did those ideas come from. […] Read more

Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.

Editor’s Note: Before we get to 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes We’re talking in our shop about 2020 and, of course, about 2030 too. Probably you’re talking about it in your shop as well. On the brink of any new decade, it’s unavoidable. But this time, the future looks different by a country mile. The reason why it looks different is amazing in its own right. […] Read more


There’s a “million-dollar farm question” in Canadian agriculture as farm parents look to transfer a financially viable farm business to the next generation.

Calculating a fairer, smarter farm inheritance: Part One

Can an estate plan be fair both to the family and to the farm business? Merle Good and Greg Gartner see a way forward

Reading Time: 6 minutes I’m supposed to ask the questions, but Merle Good, Alberta farm business advisor and nationally followed succession expert shoots a question my way before I get a chance. “Suppose you could open all the wills of today’s farmers,” he says. “How many are leaving land to off-farm children?” I expect the number is big — […] Read more

Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.

Editor’s Note: Did farms make the right choices?

We have all heard it before. It’s the saying that most bad decisions get made in good times. So, in the midst of the bull market a decade ago, we wondered what we’d be looking back on in 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes Here is what I wrote in September 2008: “Somewhere in the land and in the barns that are being bought and sold, and in the equipment purchases, and in the new partnerships that are being formed and the old ones that are falling apart, there are the beginnings of trends that we’ll point to in […] Read more


Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.

Editor’s Note: The breathtaking nerve of young farmers

Despite the tangle of current farm issues, nothing matters more in this fall’s federal election than how we encourage more young farmers to get find their feet

Reading Time: 2 minutes It was only a few years ago when, in every group of farmers, someone could be relied on to shake their heads and complain that the upcoming generation of Canada’s young farmers was marked by nothing so much as its sense of entitlement. Too many of us were too fast to see young farmers standing […] Read more

Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.

Editor’s Note: On deck for 2020 – a Country Guide suggestion

It’s an odd thing about agriculture. Or perhaps I should say it’s another odd thing. In an industry where the short and medium term are so frustrating to predict, the long-term is clear

Reading Time: 2 minutes We’re all shaking our heads about the excesses the weather has smothered us under in the past 12 months. And mostly we agree too about the equally unpredictable political excesses that have roiled global trading patterns and devastated commodity prices. Combined, those two are enough to make us overlook the historic predictability of other key […] Read more


Increasing costs related to farming are making your decisions more important and sometimes more difficult as well.

Farm fit

Maybe the phrase “Standardized Financial Benchmarks for Canadian Farm Financial Statements” doesn’t instantly get your blood pumping. But read on. Could this be the tool that lets you control your future?

Reading Time: 8 minutes Like many others, Larry Martin is convinced that Canada’s agriculture is evolving far faster than anyone driving a few miles of country sideroad could guess. The scenery hasn’t changed. At least, it hasn’t been transformed. It’s still a patchwork of crisp farmsteads and open fields, and of barns and bins. But those who live here […] Read more

Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.

Editor’s Note: Get more from the next six months

The further we go with the business focus of Country Guide, the more we believe in the ‘summer business’ concept. In fact, it’s the reason for our April issue

Reading Time: 2 minutes Farmers have always been decision-makers. It’s been true throughout the generations. But there are three reasons why it’s different today. The first is clear. It’s because of the number of zeroes in play. Farm decisions have always been make or break, but today’s dollar sums are beyond the imagining of farmers of only a few […] Read more