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

The European Union and the United Arab Emirates are expected to continue filling the hole in canola exports left by China. | File photo

Thoughts on canola to brighten a cloudy COVID day

In a world shaded by the cloud cast by COVID-19, I’ve been looking for shafts of light, bits of good news to lighten the mood. And if you keep reading to the end, you’ll see that the mood can be not only brighter, but more colourful. One glimmer I found comes from the Canadian Grain […] Read more

Corn producers are in a bind as forecasters struggle to pin down exactly how far ethanol production is likely to drop in light of the collapse in oil prices.  |  REUTERS/Bryan Woolston photo

Ag forecasts become outdated as COVID shakes world

The blistering speed of all manner of economic and social changes caused by the response to the COVID-19 virus is making forecasting nearly impossible.  For example, with corn ethanol demand dropping like a rock, will American farmers boost corn acreage like they said they would when polled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the […] Read more

The current crisis reminds the world about the need to share information and resources, co-operate, co-ordinate and take collective action.  |  File photo

Domestic resiliency must not replace co-operative spirit

The COVID-19 battle reveals shortcomings in our global supply chains, creating questions that will spark hot debate now and in the months to come. How much are we willing to pay to ensure that essential goods and services are available in our country during a crisis? What goods and services are essential? Should taxpayers fund […] Read more

Indonesia’s flour demand is said to be growing by five percent per year because of population growth and changes in eating habits, particularly among middle and higher income people.  |  REUTERS/Beawiharta photo

Trade relationship with Indonesia needs cultivating

The hottest place I have ever been in my life was inside Bogasari Flour Mill’s mammoth plant in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was 1997 and I was covering a Canadian agricultural trade mission to Indonesia and Japan, led by then federal Agriculture Minister Ralph Goodale. Situated harbourside with direct access to ocean-going ships, the Bogasari plant […] Read more

Rushes to the nation's grocery stores have left shelves empty and other unusal signs Canadians are not used to seeing at their retailers.  |  Michael Raine photo

Weaker meat demand expected when panic buying ends

This COVID-19 pandemic is revealing weakness in our society and markets and the weirdness of human reaction to stress. One example is the strange situation of huge demand for meat as panicked consumers clear beef, pork and chicken out of grocery cases while at the same time livestock futures prices plummet. Two psychologies are at […] Read more

Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, and Russian president Vladimir Putin have engaged in an oil price war that is having global effects.  |  REUTERS photo

Oil war between Russians, Saudis adds to chaos

The leaders of Saudi Arabia and Russia are taking advantage of a crisis to do what couldn’t be done before. From my reading, the two opponents in this latest oil price war might have different motivations but the overall result is to knock out higher priced oil plays around the world and to add further […] Read more