Field production of hemp for CBD oil, cooking oil, protein, fibre and animal feed might soon become an important part of prairie agriculture.  |  File photo

Hemp’s sustainable success rises with use of whole plant

Prairie farmers need another profitable crop for their rotations to relieve the pressure on canola to pay the bills. Hemp might be that crop. Canada legalized the recreational use of cannabis a year ago, unleashing a torrent of investment and news coverage, but for broadacre farmers, that is important only in that it also added […] Read more

An increase in demand for plant protein burgers, such as this McDonald’s PLT burger with a Beyond Meat plant-based patty, is prompting food manufacturers to move into the market, but some Canadian businesses are doing so in the United States.  |  REUTERS/Moe Doiron photo

Bold action needed to revive food processing sector

Excitement rippled through Western Canada’s agricultural industry in recent years as pulse processing plants were announced and construction proceeded. But when it comes to high-value product manufacturing using pulse protein, such as veggie burgers, the investment has been mostly in the United States. This could be a further example of how Canada’s business, regulatory and […] Read more

Zhang Xiangjun, manager of New Hope Liuhe’s Binh Phuoc pig farm, shows off the farm’s air filtering systems as part of its biosecurity measures against African swine fever in Binh Phuoc, Vietnam.  |  REUTERS/Hallie Gu photo

China’s call for fair trade in pork rings hollow

Oh the irony. Last week at a meat conference held as part of the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, a Chinese government official pleaded to international meat exporters not to take advantage of the current severe pork shortage in the country by ratcheting up prices. A Chinese web-based news site called Sixth Tone quoted […] Read more


Canola has become less expensive relative to soybeans, which is helping to stimulate demand that is filling in for the reduction in Chinese buying.  |  Reuters photo

Rising oilseed market could spark modest canola rally

There are several factors that should be lifting canola prices but values so far are stubbornly flat. Exports are fairly good. Even with China’s restrictions on imports of Canadian canola, total canola exports in the first 12 weeks of the crop year are slightly ahead of last season, which was before China took issue with […] Read more

West Texas Intermediate crude has traded mostly between US$50 and $60 per barrel this year, while Brent crude has traded about $10 higher at $60-$70. Goldman Sachs recently said it expects Brent prices to hover near $60 a barrel into next year.  |  REUTERS/Todd Korol photo

Flat oil prices likely: good for fuel bills, bad for biodiesel

A surplus of production capacity looks set to keep crude oil prices mostly steady or perhaps a little lower into 2020, barring any geopolitical surprises or worse than expected global economic performance. That should provide stability for farmer’s diesel bills, but it also has implications for biofuel prices and the general outlook for commodity pricing. […] Read more


Bad harvest weather is limiting the amount of top quality spring wheat grown in Canada and the United States this year.  |  REUTERS/Dan Koeck photo

Markets ponder China-U.S. trade deal, wheat problems

The energy in the agricultural futures markets last week was in wheat and hogs. Volatility was the name of the game in the Chicago hog market. It opened the week’s trade with a limit up move of three cents per pound, reacting optimistically to news on Oct. 11 that the United States and China had […] Read more

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, right, and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer welcome Chinese vice-premier Liu He before reaching a Phase 1 trade deal in Washington, D.C., Oct. 10.  |  REUTERS/Yuri Gripas photo

Looming election, slowing economy prompts trade deal

Just an hour before U.S. President Donald Trump announced a trade deal with China on Oct. 11, I had sent a column to my editor with the following lead sentence. “The negative effects on agriculture of the United States-China trade war are temporarily moderating but I expect the game-changing deal that the Trump administration originally […] Read more

Harvest takes place at a palm oil plantation near Batanghari in Indonesia.  | Reuters photo

Tightening palm oil forecast likely to support all oilseeds

Several oilseed analysts expect palm oil prices should rally by 15 to 20 percent by early 2020, providing modest support to high-oil crops such as canola. The forecast was lost in more immediate market news, sparked by developments closer to home. November canola futures topped $460 per tonne Oct. 3 for the first time since […] Read more


Bad harvest weather is playing havoc with durum quality this fall.  |  File photo

Quality durum expected to be in short supply this year

If you have quality durum safe in a bin you will likely be able to sell it at an attractive price this year. On the other hand, a lot of durum grown this summer was degraded first by rain and then by snow. This column was written before the weekend when heavy snow was forecast […] Read more

Weather troubles, loss of market access and American farm aid will force whatever party becomes government in Canada after next month’s election to take further steps to support agriculture.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Safety net made in good times might fail in tough times

It is likely going to be a miserable year for crop income, and whatever party wins the federal election this fall will likely encounter increasing requests for agricultural income assistance. The harvest in much of Western Canada is already the slowest in many years. Recent rain has downgraded the quality of many standing crops and […] Read more