Record-setting grain-hauling performance during the pandemic is partly due to slumping shipments of other products during the pandemic, but the railroads were already making record shipments of crop in recent years after boosting the capacity of their systems.  | File photo

Railways made the most of grain opportunity

CN and CP say recent legislation allowed them to make the improvements that helped accommodate increased volumes

Nobody knew COVID-19 was coming, but Canada’s railways were primed to make the most of their sudden ability to ship grain to port. Two years of heavy investing into 2020 had set up Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway to be able to haul much more grain than before the 2018 Transportation Modernization Act […] Read more

The trucking sector says truckers faced discrimination last spring as health concerns about the COVID-19 virus reached a fever pitch.  | File photo

Trucking industry faced COVID-19 backlash from fearful public

Truck drivers were on the front lines of the war to keep the Canadian grain, industrial and commercial systems operating during the first months of COVID-19. But when they needed momentary respite so they could keep doing their duties, they were often treated like enemies rather than noble warriors. “Life on the road is challenging […] Read more



Dairy farmers were able to implement strategies  to quickly deal with a supply glut and transition more easily than hog producers, who faced collapsing prices and a lack of processing facilities. | File photo

Dairy, hog sectors suffer hits

The dairy industry has rebounded from economic shutdown in early stages of the pandemic while the hog industry continues to struggle with low prices and logistics issues

Two of Canada’s livestock industries got savaged in the first COVID-19 lockdowns and outbreaks, but both have stabilized and one is recovering. Rather than the disasters that ravaged both the dairy and hog industries in spring, the two production systems have fallen out of the national news. “There’s a lot more confidence in the industry […] Read more

Many reasonable observers and analysts expected the industry to suffer far worse impacts.  | Mike Sturk photo

How processors weathered the COVID storm

For a while, problems at North American meatpacking plants were front page news. As infections afflicted thousands of workers at numerous major facilities, including Canada’s two biggest beef processors, the outlook appeared dire. Could they keep operating? Could plants that had been shut down be brought back into production? Would new health protocols and supply […] Read more


Prices were firm this year, allowing farmers to seed a crop, manage it and harvest it without really having to worry about the pandemic.  | File photo

Agriculture hit by COVID-19 but mainly showed resiliency

The year 2020 did a big favour for market prognosticators. The pandemic was such a shock that every analyst had a valid excuse for why their end-of-2019 predictions about the coming year didn’t pan out. COVID-19’s enormous impact gave everybody cover for being wrong, unlike most years when they’re wrong because they got it wrong […] Read more

Why worry about food when the grocery stores are always loaded with an abundance of the world's nutritional riches? There's no scarcity, so there's no widespread concern. That all changed in 2020. | File photo

2020: The year food mattered

Farmers often complain about the way people living in cities seem to take our high-quality, high-safety food system for granted. Nobody in Canada worries about starving. Malnourishment is generally the result of bad diet choices, poverty  or social dysfunctions,  not an inability to find or obtain enough food to survive and be healthy. Why worry […] Read more

Tempered flour is ready-to-eat, non-allergenic and designed to replace existing ingredients, such as eggs in baked products.  | File photo

Tempered flour seen as new market for pulses

A Regina company hopes to capture some of the large market for wheat flour by using lentils, peas, chickpeas and beans

A Regina food ingredient creator and processor is boosting its efforts to develop new uses for prairie pulse crops. “The potential market is huge,” said Gord Flaten, chief executive officer of Avena Foods. “There are hundreds of millions of tonnes of flour consumed in the world.” Some of that mostly wheat-based flour could be displaced […] Read more


Signing a trade deal with the United Kingdom became necessary for Canada after the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, which still doesn’t sit well with some Britons.  | Reuters/Toby Melville photo

Permanent deal with U.K. next priority for exporters

Canada has a chance to ink a better-than-expected deal with the United Kingdom as that country leaves the European Union and sallies forth onto the global stage. But even though Canada is in a better position than almost any other country in getting a permanent trade deal on good terms, many factors make the future […] Read more

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has projected 2021 soybean prices of US $10.40 per bushel, but Scott Irwin of the University of Illinois says $10.80 to $10.90 is more likely.  | File photo

Strong demand expected to push corn, soybean prices

Analyst argues tighter stocks will help prices keep ahead of increased acreage and yields in the United States next year

Scott Irwin has a beautiful Christmas gift for grain farmers. It’s the year 2021 wrapped in bullish projections that won’t be easy to tear off. The noted University of Illinois market analyst sees “very strong corn and soybean prices in 2021,” he said during the Illinois Farm Economics Summit Dec. 2. Irwin sees plenty of […] Read more