Last hurrah of the pre-pandemic Canadian crop industry

Where were you a year ago? I was in Vancouver, on a big boat filled with hundreds of Canadian and foreign grain industry players and farmers, cruising around Vancouver harbour and checking out grain terminals, ocean-going bulk ships, giant container ships and railway infrastructure that rings the centre of one of Canada’s biggest cities. I […] Read more

Anecdotal reports are popping up from across the country about unusually firm blocks of butter that don't act the way some consumers expect. | Getty Images

The “hard butter” story is a weird one

I’ve seldom covered a story that’s drawn more reader feedback than the “hard butter” issue, which has numerous people across the country saying that their butter now stays hard at room temperature, rather than becoming soft and spreadable. It’s a weird story, because there’s no real data and solid evidence on whether or not Canadian […] Read more

There is a widespread perception that blocks of butter now, left at room temperature, do not get soft, as butter traditionally does. What's going on? | Getty Images

Hard questions on Canadian butter: What’s going on?

Foodies and home cooks across Canada have been chattering about Canadian butter and why it’s often so hard these days. Some toast butterers are fuming. (Look on Twitter and Facebook  to see just how many people are becoming engaged with this issue. It’s one of those “talkers” that gets people going.) There is a widespread […] Read more

The wonderful, wild world of commodities

It’s been an exciting time to be in the commodity markets, which applies to all open market crop growers. That’s true as well if you mine copper, extract oil, smelt silver or play with Bitcoin. (I see Bitcoin as a commodity, not a currency.) The world’s glutted situation since 2014 has suddenly evaporated, at least […] Read more

Farmers have bigger things than KXL to worry about

Farmers have bigger things to worry about than the generally-expected cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline by the new U.S. Joe Biden administration. Farmers obviously realize the oil industry is not a core part of the agricultural economy, but it provides lots of off-farm jobs to many farm folk, plus the royalties and economic activity […] Read more

How much has Western Canadian grain transportation changed in 25 years? A lot, and not at all

Some things have never and probably will never change in Western Canadian agriculture. Number One of those things is farmers’ and grain companies’ constant and chronic complaints of poor and unreliable rail transportation. From 26 years of working at this newspaper, I’m pretty confident stating that grain transportation has been farmers’ biggest problem of the […] 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

Everybody’s getting resilient – but what does that really mean?

These days everything is getting referred to as resilient. Canada’s food system is being described as being “resilient” for having faced the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic and failing to break, although it seemed like it might buckle for a while. After initially running short on flour, toilet paper and a range of products, there […] Read more

The directors of agri-food companies are aware of ESG investing and what it means for their share price. | Screencap via

BLOG: Sustainable ag is here to stay

ESG investing. It may not be a household phrase yet, but it’s already shaping the future of agriculture. And in five to 10 years, Canadian producers may be operating their farms differently because of ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing. In the last 11 months, I probably received 150 emails from dozens of agriculture and […] Read more