Farms in Australia are recovering from a long, hard drought. As a result they will be returning to the ag exports market this year. Sheep are seen on a farm following heavy rains near the drought-affected town of Tamworth in New South Wales, Australia earlier this year.  |   Reuters/Loren Elliott photo

Good weather, potentially poorer prices during recovery

While crop prices are weighed down by favourable prospects so far for global production, there are pockets of trouble providing hope for modest price support in certain commodities. European production in particular is struggling, raising hopes for another year of strong imports of Canadian canola, but on the global scale those troubles are balanced out […] Read more

Opportunities for Canadian agricultural products are expanding as the world deals with supply chain disruptions. A health worker checks the temperature of a labourer arriving atop a trailer of wheat at a wholesale grain market in Chandigarh, India.  |   Reuters/Ajay Verma photo

Trade issues frustrating but Canada well positioned

It is irritating when a trade partner puts up a barrier we think is unjust, blocking what was a lucrative market. And we get frustrated with our government’s inability to get the trade partner to change their minds. Current examples are China’s restrictions on Canada’s canola, India’s restrictions regarding fumigation of pulse crops, Italy’s country-of-origin […] Read more

Retail meat prices should start to fall as supply disruptions are fixed.  |  File photo

Slaughter is recovering but supply chain still adjusting

The livestock slaughter pace in Canada and the United States is recovering from COVID-19 temporary closures and slowdowns, but the effect on the supply chain and prices will take time to get back to normal. COVID was a devastating experience for the meat sector, but it is amazing that plant operators and workers have adjusted […] Read more

The flight to the safety of the U.S. dollar that occurred in currency markets in mid-March because of disruptions caused by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to ease.  |  Reuters/Dado Ruvic illustration

Currencies rebalance as COVID chaos shifts to control

The worst of the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 shutdowns appears to be behind us and equity markets, oil prices and the Canadian dollar are recovering from the lows hit in March. Restrictions on public gatherings and on business are easing and investors hope that people will start spending again, although likely not at […] Read more

Canola trade to China remains severely constrained, but exports of the oilseed to the Asian country in March were the largest since December 2018.  |  File photo

Canada-China ag trade better but remains precarious

Canada’s export agriculture sector held its breath last week, worried that China’s increasingly volatile government would use trade to again strike at this country after a British Columbia Superior Court judge allowed Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case to continue. As this column was written May 29, China had so far angrily denounced the court’s […] Read more

Welcome moisture in key wheat growing regions of the United States and Europe are moderat ing the production worries that had been affecting prices.  |  Reuters photo

Rain arrives in time to lessen global wheat damage

Soil moisture conditions in key wheat growing regions around the world are improving. Lack of rain and temperature extremes earlier in the spring shaved down production potential in the United States and across the Atlantic, but any momentum that gave to wheat prices was offset by worries about demand destruction from the economic disruption caused […] Read more

The U.S. Department of Agriculture pegs this year’s production at a record 15.995 billion bushels, which results in a record total supply of 18.118 billion when the carry-out from this year of 2.098 billion bu. and a small amount of imports are added. |  File photo

Massive U.S. corn stock outlook weighs down market

The most burdensome American corn stocks since the early 1990s could be a major depressing factor on all grain prices this year. The United States Department of Agriculture last week forecast 2020-21 year-end U.S. corn stocks at 3.32 billion bushels, up more than a billion from the current year and the most since the 1980s. […] Read more

Booming exports and a healthy domestic packing sector haven’t been enough to protect Canadian hog prices from the significant decline seen in American slaughter rates due to COVID-19 outbreaks in that country.  |  File photo

U.S. packer shutdowns sideswipe Canadian hog farmers

It is cruel irony that Canadian hog prices are hammered lower even as the slaughter pace in this country is surprisingly resilient and pork exports are booming. The Canadian industry is suffering collateral damage from the severe slaughter decline in the United States, caused by outbreaks of COVID-19 at several plants. U.S. hog slaughter in […] Read more

“Less than ideal” growing conditions in Europe and Ukraine have caused the International Grains Council to cut its global 2020-21 wheat production forecast to 764 million tonnes, down four million from the previous month.  |  Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko photo

Eastern European dryness, falling demand tug at wheat

I’m covering several issues in this column, including the wheat market, some slaughter statistics that help measure the impact of COVID-19 on the meat industry and observations on the potato market and consumers’ lack of understanding of the scale of modern agriculture. Two stories are at play. One is the weather.  A dry spring in […] Read more

Food processing companies, such as Cargill’s beef plant in High River, Alta., will have to redouble their defences against the COVID-19 virus to maintain the flow of food.  |  Mike Sturk photo

Essential meat workers require exceptional protections

As Canadian provinces and other jurisdictions around the world take their first tentative steps toward reopening their economies, businesses, health authorities and governments must increase protections for critical businesses. Meat packers and other food processors right from the beginning of the response against COVID-19 have been designated an essential service. As such, they must be […] Read more