Gavin Harrison, a fifth-generation Manitoba farmer, and Bruce Warkentin, a financial advisor from Alberta, explore how a cash advance can benefit farmers’ marketing and financial strategies.

Make more time for marketing

Each fall, Gavin Harrison weighs the benefits of selling his crops off the combine versus later in the marketing season when volumes drop and prices are potentially higher. With more than 25 years farming, Harrison, a fifth-generation Manitoba farmer, has used many different marketing strategies. One thing that never changes is the need for cash flow to pay bills – a need that often arises well before he starts to market his crops.

About 15 years ago, Harrison started using an Advance Payments Program (APP) cash advance to help with expenses, giving him time to fine-tune his grain marketing plan and more opportunity to sell crops like canola when higher-return marketing opportunities present. He’s taken one every year since then and says it’s simply a good business decision that saves money and reduces stress.

“I didn’t use a cash advance for the first 10 years or so of farming and, looking back, that was probably a mistake,” Harrison says. “I think this program is most beneficial to the young farmer who needs help to get some bills paid while trying to grow the farm.”

An APP cash advance offers farmers up to $1 million in financing annually, with the benefits of up to $350,000 interest-free (in 2023) and no repayments until commodities start being sold. Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA) also offers an interest-bearing rate of prime less 0.75 per cent on amounts over $350,000.

“CCGA has been administering cash advances for almost 40 years. The financing is structured around farmers’ needs for working capital, with the added benefits of saving interest costs,” says Dave Gallant, CCGA’s director of finance and APP operations.

“An advance also allows you to hold on to your commodities while you choose the best time to sell, potentially generating better returns,” Gallant adds. “We serve close to 10,000 grain, livestock and honey farmers in Western Canada every year, but we know there are many more out there who could also benefit.”

Bruce Warkentin is a business advisor with MNP in Alberta who frequently advises clients to look into an APP cash advance. He says the recent increase in the interest-free limit to $350,000 for 2023 has made it an even more valuable tool that any farmer should seriously consider.

“That goes to how much farming has changed over the past 20 years and cost escalation of inputs. Farmers need a lot more liquidity to run their operations because sometimes they only sell commodities once a year and they need the liquidity to pay bills the rest of the year,” Warkentin says.

“With a line of credit or any time you’re temporarily borrowing money that you’re going to pay off when you sell your inventory, you might as well be using an APP cash advance because you’re paying zero per cent interest on a portion and below prime on the rest.”

Harrison agrees that the savings are important to his bottom line and says even the interest-bearing portion of an advance offers several points off other comparative rates he’s seen recently. He also values not having to worry about cash flow when his crops need his attention.

“An advance just allows you to go about your business getting your crop in the ground and giving it what it needs, and then you can pay it back when you’re actually seeing some revenue from selling your grains,” he says.

And if you haven’t already applied for a cash advance this year, Warkentin tells his clients that any time of year is the right time to apply. “Accessing it in the fall, if you didn’t in the spring, is definitely worth it because you don’t have to sell off the combine, you can defer it to later in the year when the prices are hopefully stronger. If you haven’t gotten one yet, you should get it at some point in 2023.”

The Advance Payments Program is a federal loan program administered by CCGA. It offers Canadian farmers marketing flexibility through interest-free and low-interest cash advances.​

For more information about the APP cash advance available
through CCGA, visit or call 1-866-745-2256