Total canola exports in April were 534,100 tonnes, compared to 926,030 tonnes for the same month last year and 972,300 in 2017.  |  File photo

April trade figures show China has hurt canola exports

We are starting to get numbers on how several issues are affecting Canada-China trade now that Statistics Canada released the April trade numbers. That was the month when China’s restrictions on imports of Canadian canola fully hit home. It was also the month when China’s problems with African swine fever really began to affect its […] Read more

Much of the Prairies is going through one of the driest springs in the more than 100 years that Environment Canada has been keeping records.  |  File photo

Prairie drought adding to producers’ crop weather woes

Could this be the year that drives down those burdensome global grain stocks that keep crop prices low? Early signs indicate substantially reduced production but demand problems associated with African swine fever sweeping Asia and trade barriers also must be considered. In recent years there have been pockets of weather problems, but not large enough […] Read more

Haying was stalled and bales stranded on a farm near Alva, Okla. last week. Rain and flood waters continue to plague the American Midwest and central plains. In many areas crops remain half planted and growers are planning to shift from corn to soybeans, once they can return to the fields.  |  REUTERS/Gene Blevins photo

U.S. aid plan could influence planting decisions

The contrast between drought worries in Western Canada and rain-caused planting delays in the United States Midwest continued last week. A new topic also entered market discussion: the US$14.5 billion trade mitigation farm aid package and speculation how it would affect American farmers’ seeding plans. Normally, by the end of May, many U.S. farmers pack […] Read more


American farmers seed soybeans last May in Missouri. This year, seeding is off to a slow start in the U.S. Midwest because of bad weather.  |  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton photo

Rain this week could sink U.S. farmers’ seeding plans

The news on agricultural trade was miserable last week with the United States and China ending talks and instituting new tariffs but prices of major grains all bounced up a little from recent lows. The reason was equally miserable news about planting delays in the U.S. due to wet, cold weather in the Midwest. While […] Read more

Canada exported 189,650 tonnes of canola to China in March, down from 407,770 tonnes in the same month last year. In the first three months of the calendar year, exports were 630,069 tonnes, down from 1.062 million tonnes in the same period last year.  |  File photo

Canada’s trade prospects with China deteriorate further

Normally a hopeful time of year, this spring seeding season is full of worry because insufficient rain has fallen in much of the Canadian Prairies and markets remain roiled by trade issues with China. The trade picture became more crazy last week with the United States-China trade talks faltering and the U.S. imposing new tariffs […] Read more


The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the domestic supply of soybeans relative to demand at year end is about 22.5 percent, well up from last year’s 10 percent and 7.5 percent two years ago.  |  REUTERS/Jose Roberto Gomes photo

Burdensome stocks weigh heavily on crop markets

China’s expanding trade restrictions are a serious situation that deserves the spotlight but growers must also understand there are additional reasons for the drop in crop prices in recent months. The market was not “buying acres” this spring, focusing instead on the prospect of large stocks-to-use ratios. That fact gets lost as every few days […] Read more

The Chinese demand for food affects almost everything in agriculture as political priorities change and disease outbreaks alter market trends.  |  Reuters/Jason Lee photo

China has big impact but don’t ignore food processors

What are the connections between falling Canadian soybean acreage, a Rabobank analysis of the impact of African swine fever in China, strong beef exports to Asia, and reports by Food and Consumer Products of Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce on impediments to food industry sustainability and competitiveness? For the purposes of this column […] Read more

Markets subdued as producers begin spring seeding

Following a dry winter, most of the Canadian Prairies could do with a good rain but many American producers wish for drier weather. Long range forecasts show potential for rain on the Prairies at the end of this month or early May. Meanwhile, moisture south of the border has been of the frozen type. A […] Read more


Prairie producers need wider range of profitable crops

Our trade troubles with China and India highlight the need not only to diversify markets but to also diversify the prairie portfolio of profitable crops. Canola is celebrated as the bill payer in Western Canada, the one major crop that usually generates a healthy profit while others are grown only as a necessary part of […] Read more

Economic slowdown puts interest rate hikes on hold

Was it only last fall when the central banks of the United States and Canada were talking about several interest rate hikes in 2019? With the economies apparently booming, it was time to tap the brakes to prevent the growth of inflation and to get interest rates up to a more normal level, after a […] Read more