Analysts argue that all commodity markets should take the unprecedented collapse of oil futures last week as a warning of what can happen in times of extreme stress, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.  |  File photo

Extreme times can make future markets turn strange

Many of us watched in amazement April 20 as the nearby West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures fell past zero and cratered at $-40 per barrel. The collapse happened with lightning speed, and as fast as I refreshed my chart I couldn’t keep up with the collapse. It was stunning. I wasn’t the only one […] Read more

Experts on cross-border movement say essential goods are able to move back and forth across the two borders, but the main human flows have been controlled.  |  File photo

Border changes seen as COVID-19 bright spot

Senior U.S. official praises how Canada-U.S. and U.S.-Mexico borders have been managed to restrict spread of the virus

Rather than a disaster, the Canada-United States border has been a shining example of how to deal with crises, said trade experts on a Wilson Centre panel. The way the Canada-U.S. border and U.S.-Mexico border have been managed during the COVID-19 crisis provides hope for the rest of North America’s economy. “Instead of being an […] Read more

CO2 shortage another threat for food processors

Compressed carbon dioxide is a little-known but critical component in the slaughter and food processing industries

On top of shutdowns and slowdowns, meat packers and food processors face a crisis from a source few farmers have ever thought about before: compressed carbon dioxide. It’s a critical component in the slaughter and food processing industries, both for processing and refrigeration, but the collapse of oil and ethanol production has created a collapse […] Read more

Old meat processing plants struggle to manage disease

Canadian and American meat packers, as well as farmers, are suffering from an aged processing system designed for a different era. As one packer after another closes to increasingly severe COVID-19 outbreaks, some are wondering how the slaughter industry will re-engineer itself for a post-coronavirus world. “The scope of how they manage risk will have […] Read more

As slaughter plants in Canada and the United States reduce line speeds, shifts or effect temporary closures to deal with COVID-19 concerns, analysts say supplies are likely to be affected. | File photo

Will the wild changes in the grocery, food and farming systems survive the pandemic?

What will create lasting changes and what is transitory?

The food, farming and grocery sectors have been shocked by the coronavirus crisis. Packing plants have been temporarily shuttered, creating crises on hog farms and cattle feedlots that can’t move animals they have no space for. Food products that everybody has taken for granted for decades, such as flour and yeast, have become suddenly scarce, […] Read more

Growers who make a major investment commitment in the spring can see profitability expectations change drastically by the time they deliver their crops half a year later. | File photo

Farmers put faith in future demand for commodities

The world market looks the scariest and riskiest in living memory. So, will farmers reduce that risk by cutting back on acres, number of animals, inputs or management, while they wait for things to get better? Nope. At least not for 90 percent of growers and livestock producers who have the money or credit to […] Read more

Will Bergmann operates a community-supported agriculture vegetable operation near Winnipeg and has heard from a lot more consumers this spring. | File photo

Direct-to-consumer sales heat up for farmers

Many Canadians are buying food from local producers because of COVID-19, but it will take time to increase production

Many Canadians have turned to local farmers to fill their food needs and many producers are scrambling to meet the new demand. “It’s (COVID-19) definitely increased sales,” said Mark Hoimyr, whose Box H Farm in Gladmar, Sask., produces grass-fed beef. “It was easily double or more… what we would have normally delivered.” However, meeting the […] Read more

Option spreads may be better than buying puts or calls

Crops have held up so much better than most other asset classes that call and put options are still viable hedging tools. However, to make them a safer and more affordable bet, some advisers are recommending option spreads as opposed to simply buying puts or calls. “You can set a range of prices and reduce […] Read more

Food exports may be Canada’s greatest strength: analyst

Canada has a chance to regain some lost ground in world markets as COVID-19 causes competitors to become unreliable suppliers. But gaining that opportunity will require committed effort from governments, says a Canadian agricultural think-tank. “We can be the supplier for countries that are structurally food-deficit,” Al Mussell, lead analyst at Agri Food Economic Systems […] Read more

The meat processing sector is just one of the agricultural industries affected by the ripple effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  |  File photo

COVID-19 produces unique challenges for some sectors

It’s a fascinating time in commodity markets — and that ain’t a great thing for many Canadians and some farmers. There’s freaky stuff going on in some commodities, such as crude oil. At times the value of western Canadian heavy crude has dropped to near zero. In that it’s like the cash market value of […] Read more