Canadian farmers can’t rely on the kinds of emergency bailouts seen in other parts of the world, mainly Europe and the United States. That’s why our safety net programs are so important.  |  File photo

Canola crisis exposes weakness of farm safety nets

American and European farmers have the world’s best risk management system: political support from sympathetic governments. When a crisis appears, these governments scramble to find a way to prop up their producers. Western Canadian farmers will never have that kind of a safety net to fall into. Partly by the design of confederation (the sparsely […] Read more

The boost in canola-based interest-free cash advances from $100,000 to $500,000 can’t compensate much for marketplace losses, but it will allow farmers to have more cash in hand now and after harvest to settle bills that come due.  |  File photo

Cash advance expansion will act as stress reliever

Will the big boost to cash advances solve the China problem? Nope. Will it compensate farmers fully for their losses from the spat between Beijing and Ottawa? No. Will it remove canola-marketing worries from farmers throughout 2019-20? No way. But as a temporary stopgap, it’s a good stress reliever, a shield against some bad choices […] Read more

Western Canadian farmers face a unique set of challenges and risks that requires a uniquely western Canadian approach to balancing the opportunities of coming decades with much higher levels of risk than faced by most of our competitors.  |  File photo

What farmers must know when facing anti-trade future

American farmers can get away with risk-taking that is likely to devistate reckless Canadian farmers. European farmers can also roll the dice on gambles that are likely to destroy Canadians. Each of those giant players has enormous domestic markets and a government committed to protecting producers. When foreign markets are shut off for them, it’s […] Read more


Farmers shouldn’t worry about thinking strategically when marketing their canola this year until they price at least some of their crop.  |  File photo

Timing is tough when marketing around a trade dispute

A farmer who gets the timing right on the end of the China-Canada canola dispute could make a lot of money. After all, any resolution of the lingering and worsening crisis could see canola prices pop dozens of dollars per tonne, rising a couple of bucks a bushel. When China began shutting off its market […] Read more

Canada is particularly vulnerable to a disease like African swine fever because it exports so much of its pork production.  |  Reuters/Daniel Acker photo

Canada must act like African swine fever is already here

The reality of African swine fever is so obvious that Canada should already be acting like it’s here. There’s lots of talk about getting ready to act if ASF hits, but that’s not good enough. To protect Canadian farmers against the worst of the multibillion-dollar impact that any ASF outbreak will have, Canada needs to […] Read more


Countries such as Canada are put in a bind when many of the nations with which they signed trade agreements don’t appear eager to play fair.  |  File photo

Canada needs to find like-minded nations on trade field

Canada is avoiding being a naive boy scout, resisting the temptation to play bully, and trying to find a way to be a canny survivor. For Canadian farmers, exporting has suddenly become vexatious. Figuring out how to move forward without being a sucker or a fool is one of the keys to future Canadian farm […] Read more

Canola growers face rough ride as challenges mount

I’m predicting a dour mood this week in Montreal, as canola growers and those who live off their crop production efforts gather for the Canola Council of Canada annual convention. Problems have piled up for what’s become most farmers’ favourite crop. The spread of clubroot and the worsening of blackleg have thrown a pall into […] Read more

Workers set up a wild boar fence along the Danish-German border last month in an attempt to keep African swine fever out of Denmark.  |  Ritzau Scanpix/Frank Cilius photo

Spectre of African swine fever haunts Canadian industry

Canadian hog farmers and Canada’s pork industry are world export champions, selling most of what they produce to foreign buyers. That’s something to be proud about. Canadian farmers are selling top-quality product to picky foreign buyers who have the choice to buy pork from anywhere, but often find Canada’s to be the best combination of […] Read more


It’s almost impossible to come up with reasonable expectations for profit potential when buying farmland that will take 20 years to pay off.  |  File photo

Purchasing farmland is always a high-risk gamble

In risk management, everything you do should be based on reasonable expectations. Even if you’re the gambling type, you should only be making gambles in which you know the odds you’re playing with. That applies to short-term situations, like the kinds of prices your crops or livestock will likely fetch a few months from now. […] Read more

Soybean prices remain at the worst levels they’ve suffered since the end of the commodities boom, while corn, the other bellwether crop, is stumbling along beneath US$4 per bushel.  |  File photo

Worries abound as markets wallow in distressing times

The world has a lot to worry about. That has been demonstrated in a way that those of us who follow markets closely can see most clearly: in the prices of commodities and stocks. The S&P 500 index is still well underneath levels it first surpassed in late 2017 and is still near correction territory […] Read more