Multimillion-dollar gift for ag-business program

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One of southern Alberta’s most prominent farm entrepreneurs has donated $5 million to establish an agribusiness program at the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College.

Cor Van Raay and his late wife, Christine, settled in the Iron Springs area of southern Alberta in the early 1960s, purchasing a half section of cropland and later adding a small herd of Holstein cattle. They expanded into sugar beets and built one of the country’s most successful cattle operations. Cor Van Raay co-founded Butte Grain Merchants, continued to build his cattle business with an increasing emphasis on sustainable business practices, and became a majority owner of a very successful southern Alberta John Deere dealership, from which he recently retired. Cor has now shifted his focus to a new farming operation he’s establishing in Saskatchewan.

The $5-million gift will be shared jointly between the university and college, and used for student awards, academic programming, an Agriculture Entrepreneur in Residence (Lethbridge College) and an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program (University of Lethbridge).

“In partnership with Lethbridge College and the U of L, this gift will help position southern Alberta as a leader in the agricultural industry,” said Van Raay. “I’m really looking forward to the future.”

The Cor Van Raay Southern Alberta Agribusiness Program, a joint program offered by the two schools, will focus on ag-economics, business development, entrepreneurship, finance, human resource management, commodity and futures trading, and general management and leadership with a focus on agricultural innovation.

“Through the establishment of this program, we will be able to create student opportunities such that we educate future generations in agribusiness practices that enable them to successfully operate wide-ranging businesses in the agricultural sector,” said Mike Mahon, president of the University of Lethbridge.

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