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Ag forecasts become outdated as COVID shakes world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

Canola seems to be breaking free of reliance on soyoils complex.  |  File photo

Canola values resilient in face of drop in oil and markets

The COVID-19 virus worldwide and the rail blockades at home have depressed grain futures prices but canola prices have fared better than most other parts of the vegetable oil complex and crude oil values. Its relative strength might be explained by the fact that since most canola shipments have been barred from China anyway, the […] Read more

Vietnamese students at the Hanoi National University of Education attend the first day of classes March 2 after returning to the school, which was closed for more than a month because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Commodity markets fell last week as analysts tried to figure out how actions taken to reduce the spread of the virus, such as quarantines and travel restrictions, will slow demand for fuel, raw materials and agricultural goods.  |  REUTERS/Kham photo

COVID-19 outbreak fears spark sharp market selloff

Whether you call it a crash or correction, world stock markets fell heavily last week as uncertainty about how the COVID-19 coronavirus will slow economic growth shook investors. Commodity markets also fell as analysts tried to figure out how actions taken to reduce the spread of the virus, such as quarantines and travel restrictions, will […] Read more


Second wave of biofuel production could wash fuel clean

Biofuel expansion is on the agenda of many countries. Canada, the United States, Indonesia and Malaysia are all engaged in or talking about increased biofuel use. I think new biofuel targets will benefit society by using surplus agricultural production to lower the carbon intensity of transportation fuel. But sensitivity is needed. Care must be taken […] Read more

A doctor disinfects a room for medical staff with sanitizing equipment at a community health service centre in the Wuhan district of China, which has been at the centre of the COVID-19 virus outbreak that has disrupted China’s economy. It has been difficult making predictions about global agricultural markets when these kinds of unforeseen events make a habit of occurring.  |  Reuters photo

Crop market’s Magic 8-ball says: reply hazy, try again

I need to take my crystal ball into the shop for a tune-up. Its view has become very hazy. It failed me back in early January when I was writing about how the shortage of palm oil was a solid supply and demand situation not influenced by political whims and sure to provide strong, continuing […] Read more