Cow-calf producers must decide whether to expand their herds in anticipation that demand will grow after the pandemic is over or instead focus on carefully stewarding low-cost efficiency rather than expansion. | Maria Johnson photo

Post-COVID uncertainty complicates beef decisions

Cow-calf operators and the rest of the beef industry are facing their usual dilemma, but it is being exaggerated and worsened by COVID-19. When they invest today, they’re investing in a market that is years away. And the trends that will reveal what that market should be won’t be visible for months, or years. It’s […] Read more

Canadian feeder pig shipments saw radical swings as COVID-19 unfolded, falling 21 percent in May but surging by 21 percent in September compared to summer levels. | File photo

Pork sector praised for adjusting to pandemic

Production was four percent higher than 2019, which showed processors’ ability to keep operating despite the challenges

Canada’s pork industry survived the shock, the shutdowns, the disruptions and the costs of the first year of COVID-19 and had a good year — overall. But expect to see some changes in the post-COVID industry, says a team of University of Guelph researchers. “The implementation of labour-saving technology … will be spurred by the […] Read more

If there’s one thing the average farmer hates to do at seeding time, it’s to stop and do something that doesn’t lead to the next acre being sown. | File photo

Vaccine or seeding: could be a tough choice this spring

One of the worst photography assignments at The Western Producer is being sent out to take photos of farmers seeding. It’s not the taking of pictures of farmers actually seeding that’s the problem. It’s getting them to stop for a moment, come out of the cab, and pose for a pic, while providing a handful […] Read more


Companies say grappling with the concrete impact of COVID-19 has made them more conscious of the general health situation of employees, including their mental health. | Getty Images

Food companies anxious to get back to the office

Canada’s protein processors and their workers didn’t miss much work in 2020 and the first few months of 2021. Regardless of temporary plant shutdowns and office lockdowns, Canada’s food companies kept working, with white collar employees moving their operations off-site to home offices. They hardly seemed to miss a beat. But some of Manitoba’s big […] Read more

With field prep and input procurement — things not done off-the-cuff these days — not many people are jumping into and out of crops based on market or long-term weather reports. | File photo

Pleasure of few choices can be a blessing for producers

Many, perhaps most, farmers these days benefit from a wonderful bit of contrarian psychology, especially at this time of year: it’s better to have fewer choices than more choices. With many farmers’ rotations set, there isn’t much to decide when it comes to what to do with free acres because there really aren’t any. With […] Read more


Report credits much of the success to keeping Canada-U.S. border open, which helped companies keep goods flowing. | File photo

Food system withstood pandemic challenge

Report credits much of the success to keeping Canada-U.S. border open, which helped companies keep goods flowing

After a year of the pandemic, the ability of Canada’s food system to continue to function while providing generally affordable food has been proven, observed two agricultural economists. In the opener to a special edition of the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, James Deaton of the University of Guelph and Brady J. Deaton of the […] Read more

Industry “resiliency” is a never-given

Everybody hates getting their vehicle stuck and having to call for help. I’m sure the captain of the Ever Given, the gigantic container ship that completely blocked the Suez Canal for a week, was mightily embarrassed having to put out an emergency call to canal officials, tug boat operators and his bosses at the shipping […] Read more

At only slightly more than 40 bushels per acre, Canadian canola yields are nowhere near the 52 set out in the 2025 plan, which combined with the envisioned acreage base would produce a crop of 26 million tonnes per year. | File photo

Canola industry keen to get back on growth path

Growers and the rest of Canada’s canola industry are hoping 2021 brings it back to the growth trajectory that had been propelling it toward its goals. Another year of flat production will make it seem almost impossible to achieve the Canola Council of Canada’s 2025 targets. Right now, production and yields are only halfway between […] Read more


“In a disruptive year, we saw how resilient the entire value chain can be,” said Jim Everson, CCC president, at the March 18 annual meeting. | File photo

Canola’s (mostly) excellent year

Success in 2020’s farming looks different in today’s rear-view mirror. “We planted the crop. We harvested the crop. We marketed the crop,” Bernie McClean, a Glaslyn, Sask., farmer and a new board member with the Canola Council of Canada, said in mid-March, the day after the organization’s abridged and online-only annual meeting. That ability to […] Read more

While some populists fade, populism itself around the world could grow and become stronger, while struggling populists turn more extreme rather than moderate to seek popularity. | Screencap via YouTube/Donald J. Trump

Lingering populism considered ongoing threat to trade

Rabobank says conditions remain ideal for populist leaders to thrive, one of many challenges faced by world’s exporters

The defeat of former U.S. president Donald Trump and the fading fortunes of a few populist heavyweights isn’t the same as the decline of populism, says a Rabobank macro-economics strategist. In fact, while some populists fade, populism itself around the world could grow and become stronger, while struggling populists turn more extreme rather than moderate […] Read more