A sign hangs in a window at Fishs Eddy store in New York Dec. 24, 2008. The global recession manifested itself in big and small ways, most gloomy, some quirky and often reflecting the inventive human spirit. A series of Hedge Row columns will look at the lessons Canadian farmers can learn from the crisis.  |  REUTERS/Michelle Nichols photo

Remembering the lessons from the 2008 financial crisis

Do you remember where you were 10 years ago when we fell into a worldwide financial crisis? (It still doesn’t have a generally accepted name, with the Great Contraction, the Financial Crisis and the Great Recession being most commonly used.) What did it mean to you and your farm? What lessons have you drawn from […] Read more

The Class 7 solution seemed to solve some of the Canadian dairy sector’s problems, but the export component angered the American industry.  |  File photo

Supply management in trouble even if it survives NAFTA

The worst outcome from any North American Free Trade Agreement deal would be a supply management system that survives but is weakened. Saving free access to the United States, if that happens, will be a blessed relief for all the Canadian crop, livestock and food businesses. And if dairy supply management manages to survive, even […] Read more

Hog producers are seeing prices that, if sustained, would crush the industry. Profitability is hard to predict, but the fall season might provide relative opportunities.  |  Michael Raine photo

Diving hog prices more of a grey swan than black swan

It’s been 10 years since the world learned what a black swan was, embracing the concept as the best-feeling explanation for the 2008-09 worldwide financial crisis. Today it’s worth looking back at that concept and book, by trader and supremely arrogant pontificator Nassim Nicholas Taleb, to see if we’ve learned its primary lessons, because we […] Read more


The most likely impact of the Turkish lira crisis is that the Canadian dollar might slip a couple of pennies against the American dollar in the next few weeks if the crisis continues or spreads.  |  REUTERS/Murad Sezer illustration

Measures advised to help protect against falling loonie

Do you know how the Turkish crisis is going to work out? Me neither. But while I get to watch the situation in a professional capacity, getting intellectual joy out of it, you get to worry about how it is going to affect the value of hundreds of thousands or a couple of million dollars […] Read more

Not knowing how long the trade dispute between China and the United States will last makes the pricing and hedging of continentally and internationally traded commodities a riskier proposition on both sides of the border.  |  File photo

Assuming trade war will end soon is risky marketing move

Assumptions and reasonable expectations can be risky when the world goes crazy. That’s true in agricultural markets right now, with United States President Donald Trump’s multi-front trade war just beginning to bring economic bloodshed. It makes hedging everyday production risks more fraught than usual. Before I discuss these risks a bit more, let me muse […] Read more


Closed market access because of the discovery of genetically modified wheat plants in Alberta may upend the predictable market cycles on which hedging is based.  |  File photo

Unpredictability makes hedging difficult for producers

There are some things you can count on in the crop and meat markets: Crops are volatile but rise from spring toward August and then sell off as weather worries arise and then dissipate. Pork prices rise into midsummer as barbecuers work their grills, and then sell off. Except when those things don’t happen, like […] Read more

Canada’s own security might be compromised if it doesn’t expand its trading capacity beyond its southern neighbour. Expansions at the ports of Montreal, shown here, and Vancouver are critical to goods trade, as are improved pipelines to tidewater.  |  Sean Pratt photo

National security is in the eye of the beholder

For Canada, critical export infrastructure should be treated like the U.S. treats national defence: as a non-partisan issue too serious to mess with. The Trump administration has farcically claimed “national security” as its excuse for the unjustified steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and other trading partners it imposed last week. The weak argument of […] Read more

Canadian canola could be vulnerable to Chinese trade actions now that Canada has pulled the plug on an investment venture.  |  File photo

Will ag trade bear brunt of China’s retaliation for Aecon?

Get ready for China to pull some more shenanigans with Canadian canola. I’m sure the massive country’s government feels it needs to do something to signal its grave displeasure with Canada’s decision to prevent one of its state-owned organizations from taking over Canada’s biggest construction company. Hitting canola is a pretty easy way to slap […] Read more


Traders work on the floor of the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange during the final minutes of trading, Dec. 16, 2004. | File photo

Exchange’s noble history deserves recognition as it leaves Winnipeg

Winnipeg’s 114-year futures-trading existence is ending much the way the Roman and British empires disappeared: with some nostalgia and regrets, but no panic, and an acceptance that its time was done. Most will never recognize it has happened. Farmers probably won’t be worse off after the Intercontinental Exchange, if it gets needed regulatory approval, takes […] Read more

Statistics Canada’s first seeding intentions report of the year finds farmers planning to grow 300,000 more acres of barley, and some analysts think it could be higher than that.  |  File photo

Barley might be bouncing back from its recent doldrums

This could be the year of the big barley bounce back. It’s too early to tell if farmers were telling the truth to Statistics Canada about their seeding intentions, and weather can always throw honest intentions into a blender and puree them into an ugly mess, but as of early spring farmers said they were […] Read more