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

Members of the European Parliament are discussing a proposal for a “sustainability charge” on meat that could become part of a new agricultural policy and also a wider framework called the European Green Deal.  |  REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch photo

Meat tax idea misguided effort to address concerns

Canadian farmers frustrated over an ever widening gap of understanding between themselves and urban consumers should learn what is happening in Europe. What many Canadian farmers fear could happen here regarding government environmental and animal welfare policy is already law in parts of Europe. And Europeans are debating new policies that could have even greater […] Read more

Travellers wearing face masks arrive at the Beijing Capital International Airport Feb. 2 as China copes with an outbreak of the new coronavirus.  |  Reuters photo

Wuhan coronavirus outbreak needs perspective, not panic

When there is an unknown threat such as the Wuhan coronavirus it is hard to forecast what will have the biggest global economic impact, the disease or the effort to contain it. This is an agricultural markets column so let’s focus on how the futures markets are reacting. The first cases in China were detected […] Read more


Reduced seeded acreage and bad weather in the U.S. Midwest slashed production of soft wheat to about 239 million bu. last year.  |  REUTERS/Jim Young photo

Soft wheat futures score rare lead over spring wheat

Wheat market bullishness, particularly tight U.S. supplies of soft wheat, has driven the Chicago wheat futures price into a rare lead over Minneapolis spring wheat. There are fundamental supply-demand factors supporting wheat prices and some think there is a possibility that spring wheat will eventually ride the coattails of Chicago higher. But there is also […] Read more

Lack of snow cover has left Russia’s wheat crop vulnerable to winterkill if temperatures plummet.  |  File photo

Russia raises eyebrows with talk of limiting grain exports

As Western Canada endured record-breaking cold last week, much of Russia and Europe enjoyed milder than normal weather. And as we parse the words of our federal leaders for their potential foreign policy and trade reactions in foreign capitals, it is interesting to note that that there are sensitivities everywhere. Last week India, the world’s […] Read more