Don’t expect too much, no matter what happens with Meng

Whatever happens Wednesday, China will not be a market we can count on again

Tomorrow (Wednesday) a B.C. Supreme Court judge will release the ruling on whether or not to uphold the validity of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s arrest and detention on a U.S. extradition request. A lot of people are hoping Meng gets released, goes back to China, that China calms down, the two Michaels are released and […] Read more

With the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which has killed more than 70,000 Americans, a number of large meat-processing plants have shut down because of infected workers. The result has been fewer markets to which to sell livestock and higher prices for meat. | File photo

Is North America’s food supply system a disaster or a success story?

Under the stress of COVID-19 both the flaws and resiliency of the Canadian and U.S. food systems have become popular topics

Is our food system a disaster? Widespread food shortages on grocery store shelves make some think so. In the early days of COVID-19, when I saw empty shelves for some dairy products, flour and toilet paper I got pretty spooked about food security. When I heard about packing plants becoming rife with virus, hundreds of […] Read more

In a joint statement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representative listed a number of steps taken that should help boost U.S. exports of beef, poultry and other farm products to China, and said U.S. food and agricultural products exports were benefiting from Chinese tariff relief.|  REUTERS/Aly Song photo

Disputes with China accelerated and frozen by COVID-19

Where will Canadian farmers stand in a new Cold War?

In some ways the COVID-19 crisis has frozen Canada’s and other countries’ disputes with China, drawing everybody’s attention to the immediate needs of preserving national healthcare systems, protecting people’s health, and dealing with the devastating job losses and business failures provoked by the coronavirus. Just today the U.S. government announced that over 30 million U.S. […] 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

A healthcare worker tests people for COVID-19 at a Calgary Rural Primary Care Testing Centre drive-through location at the High River, Alta., Culture Centre. The town is home to Cargill's beef packing facility in Alberta. |  Mike Sturk photo

Cargill closes High River beef plant

The Cargill meat processing plant in High River, Alta., which slaughters 40 percent of the cattle in Canada, announced temporary closure effective April 20. Date of reopening is unknown but the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association said it could mean industry losses of half a billion dollars by June if the closure lasts that long. Halt of […] Read more


Are crops and meat Canada’s best soft power tools?

An agricultural think tank thinks they could be

Are you hoarding toilet paper? How about white flour? Cheese? From trips to my local supermarket and posts on my social media accounts, it seems like lots of people are. If you were planning to spend this month baking bread and using a lot of toilet paper and haven’t already stocked up, forget about it. […] Read more

Western Producer reporter Ed White sat down with federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau last week while she was in Winnipeg.  |  Supplied photo

A deliberate and unhurried hand at the agricultural policy tiller

Marie-Claude Bibeau isn't likely to shy away from tough areas, or be rushed into "fixing" them

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau isn’t scare of talking about agricultural policy. That’s a good thing, because one thing any Canadian Agriculture Minister must be willing to do is talk about ag policy. And talk and talk and talk. Everybody wants to talk to whoever the ag minister is, and in the agriculture industry that […] Read more

Newspaper journalism has faced a digital tsunami

The internet and social media are cool, but the right-side/wrong-side journalism it has created are a curse

When I showed up at The Western Producer in November 1994 I was handed a Macintosh laptop and shown how the company email system worked. That was pretty cool. Instead of being shackled to a boxy desktop computer, I could take my sleek laptop wherever I was reporting from, plug into a phone line and […] Read more


Farmers’ attitudes and realities evolve over a quarter-century

(And so does the observer)

Farmers sure have changed in the past 25 years. Or have I changed in the quarter-century I’ve been covering farmers and farming for The Western Producer? Do the same things just look different to my older, more experienced and physically degraded eyes? It’s probably a bit of both, but looking back over these 25 years […] Read more

Lots changes, but much remains the same, in both farming and journalism

In 25 years of reporting on farming, everything seems both different and the same

How do you find a farmer? Finding farmers and getting their views has always been a core part of my job. It wasn’t easy to do 25 years ago, when the internet was a just-beginning thing, almost nobody had a mobile phone and most farmers lived far from the cities I was living in. Fortunately, […] Read more