Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Government of Canada

Government of Canada

July 20, 2005 14:37 ET

AAFC: New Training Program Available to Help Increase Income for Alberta Farm Families

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(CCNMatthews - July 20, 2005) - A program aimed at helping farmers and their spouses develop skills to improve farm practices and increase their family income is now available in Alberta.

The Canadian Agricultural Skills Service (CASS) program will make up to $12.95 million available to the province of Alberta over the next three years to help cover the costs of training, books and course fees for farmers and their families.

The goal of the CASS program is to help new and established farm families improve their income by developing new skills in an increasingly complex business environment, and capture new opportunities in agriculture. It will be delivered in partnership between Alberta Human Resources and Employment (AHRE), Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

"Our governments are committed to supporting the industry so that it can be more profitable," said Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Minister Andy Mitchell. "By helping our farmers and their spouses increase their family income, we are recognizing their central role in maintaining Canada's worldwide reputation as a strong and healthy agricultural supplier."

"Canadian farms are not run the same way they were 100 years ago," said Doug Horner, Alberta Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. "In the evolving business of agriculture, it is important to have programs like CASS to give Alberta producers the skills they need to compete."

Farm families will now be better able to get training to improve their farming practices, take advantage of other business opportunities, or obtain off-farm employment. This may include formal training such as college courses or more informal training like workshops or shorter courses. The CASS program will be delivered throughout Alberta, from AHRE offices in: Grande Prairie, Peace River, Edson, St. Paul, Westlock, Barrhead, Camrose, Vermilion, Red Deer, Airdrie, High River, and Lethbridge.

"Increasing the access to training for Alberta farm families is key to their continued viability," said Mike Cardinal, Alberta Minister of Human Resources and Employment. "We have a long history of working with the federal government to address local labour market needs. It is good to see this relationship will be extended to assist Alberta farm families."

The CASS program will be available in Alberta until March 2008. More information about this and other renewal programs can be found at or at Anyone interested in applying may contact the Ag Info Line at 1-866-882-7677, or the Career Information Hotline at 1-800-661-3753 or go to


Canadian Agricultural Skills Service (CASS)

The purpose of the CASS program is to help farmers and their spouses increase their family income through improved farm practices or through increased off-farm income.


An assessment and an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) will be developed for all eligible participants.

Training course tuition and related costs are available for both farmers and their spouses. Each participant will be reimbursed as follows:

- Family income(i) less than $35,000 - eligible for benefits up to
- Family income(i) $35,001 to $40,000 - eligible for benefits up to
- Family income(i) $40,001 to $45,000 - eligible for benefits up to

-Net family income based on a three-year average for established
farmers or based on the previous year's income for beginning farmers.

Eligible costs include:

- support for training including up to 24 months of a community
college program, excluding university degree programs. Eligible
costs could include costs of taking mechanics courses, welding,
accrual accounting courses, general educational development and
academic upgrading, and workshop/field day fees.

- support for related costs such as dependant care, travel costs and
other allowances while on travel status;

- costs associated with skills and learning activities such as
tuition and textbooks.


Established producers and their spouses with gross farm sales of at least $10,000 per year OR members with at least a 20% share of a farm corporation, cooperative or other farm group enterprise with $10,000 annual gross farm sales are eligible to apply for CASS.

Farm families with a net family income of $45,000 or less are eligible to apply for the CASS program.

Beginning farmers, regardless of family income, will receive a skills assessment and an ILP. A beginning farmer is someone who plans to establish a farm, or who already owns or has operated a farm for less than six years, and can demonstrate the operation will generate annual farm sales of $10,000 or more.

Participants must be out of the school system for at least two years and are not receiving Employment Insurance Part II funding for training.

Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa
    Media Relations
    (613) 759-7972 or 1-866-345-7972
    Office of Minister Mitchell
    Elizabeth Whiting
    (613) 759-1059
    Alberta Human Resources and Employment
    Jason C. Maloney
    (780) 415-6488
    Alberta Ag Media Line
    (780) 422-1005
    Dial 310-0000 for toll-free access outside of Edmonton