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

The floods inundated stretches of the two farm states along the Missouri River, the longest in waterway in North America. Nearly half of Iowa's counties have been declared disaster areas. | Reuters photo

U.S. flooding is the only bullish news in grain markets

“This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season.” Those sobering words were how Ed Clark, director of the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Water Center in Alabama, described the situation in large parts of the Midwest this spring. The grain market, which has been mired in negative news about […] Read more


The potential damage caused by African swine fever in Canada would be devastating to producers and a major hit to the economy, threatening 100,000 jobs and $24 billion in economic activity linked to pork production.  | REUTERS/Daniel Acker photo

Feds must be guard dog protecting against hog disease

When we think of dogs in agriculture the first image might be a shepherd guarding a flock of sheep. But in Canada right now a more important canine is the stalwart sniffer dog at airports, protecting the nation’s multibillion-dollar pork industry. The federal government is engaging admirably to protect this country’s herd from the threat […] Read more

It’s widely believed that China is holding Canadian canola hostage because of Canada’s handling of a U.S. extradition request involving a senior Chinese business executive.  |  Reuters photo

Over-dependence on one volatile market is a problem

Canola prices have fallen to around the same low level they hit the last time we were having trade issues with China back in the summer of 2016. Back then, China’s concern was the level of dockage and its potential to raise the introduction of blackleg disease. The Chinese are being less specific this time, […] Read more

A fall-seeded rapeseed field blooms near Cambrai, France, last April. Dryness in Western Europe is raising concerns about the condition of fall-seeded crops as they prepare to come out of dormancy soon.  |  REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol photo

Spring weather will soon become market consideration

Dry weather in North Africa and parts of Europe as well as worries about the potential for delayed spring seeding in the U.S. Midwest will likely start to be issues for market discussion in the coming weeks. So far in 2019 crop prices have been lackadaisical, weighed down by ample world stocks and the ongoing […] Read more


Large supply in the United States has hurt hog futures, but some analysts think help could be coming from China, where the country might have to start buying more pork to offset massive herd liquidations caused by African swine fever.  |  File photo

Speculation grows about future Chinese pork imports

Hog producers might have dodged a fourth-quarter price collapse, but futures since then have cratered as American pork production exceeded expectations. But hog futures prices could rally later this year depending on what happens in China as it battles African swine fever in its herd. One Canadian analyst, Jim Long, suggests that once the unprecedented […] Read more

The fight in Washington over the Renewable Fuel Standard will have major implications for the future state of the ethanol industry.  | File photo

U.S. ethanol future tied to bumper crop of D.C. politics

Ethanol producers in the United States achieved another record year in 2018, with production climbing 1.9 percent to 16.1 billion U.S. gallons processed from about 5.6 billion bushels of corn, or about 38 percent of the 2017-18 crop. But ethanol producers are not content. They are vexed by the actions of the U.S. Environmental Protection […] Read more