Infrastructure such as the Port of Vancouver needs protection from other interests that aren’t always friendly.  |  Ed White photo

Agriculture export infrastructure’s future not guaranteed

There are a lot of things you can take for granted in a First World nation. The rule of law applies. Civil liberties have the force of law. Property rights are protected. National interests trump local concerns. Actually, you can’t count on the last one. In a federation like Canada, the world’s second oldest federation, […] Read more

It’s hard to find a silver lining to this winter of woe.
 But for those farmers who survive its many travails and get a better year in 2020-21, perhaps stronger farms and Canadian farming system will arise.
 | File photo

Tough couple of years could end up making farmers stronger

It’s hard to find a silver lining to this winter of woe. But for those farmers who survive its many travails and get a better year in 2020-21, perhaps stronger farms and Canadian farming system will arise. That’s the kind of wisdom I sensed developing among farmers and those who serve them during the Canadian […] Read more

Manitoba Agriculture’s cost of production data for 2020 found corn to be the most profitable of all large acre crops grown in the province, but also number one on the list of insurance risks.  |  File photo

Corn and oats most profitable in Man., but corn most risky

Looked at one way, oats and corn are the obvious best big-acreage crops to sow this spring. Looked at another way, the two crops are both likely to be profitable for farmers on the eastern Prairies. Looked at still a different way, oat crops look super-safe to grow and corn looks super-risky. It’s all a […] Read more

Prairie farming and agriculture feel very different as we roll into 2020 from the place we were at the beginning of 2010. But what is that difference? | File photo

Decade began with the wheat board and ended in chaos

We roared into the 2010s raging about the Canadian Wheat Board as we rode atop a raging commodity bull market. We stumble out of 2019 savaged by dreadful weather, struggles to break even and a suddenly harsh world environment. And in the midst of it all, we saw farmers make some great profits, suffer some […] Read more

No matter where I have gone this fall and winter, I’ve picked up a constant murmur of anxiety and worry from the farmers I talk with. 
| File photo

Stress, anxiety can result in poor decision-making, risk

How much value-at-risk (VaR) is your farm carrying this winter? And what’s the chief cause of that risk? With so much of this year’s crop in poor condition and in perilous situations, the average prairie farm’s revenues could swing by tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on how well those crops are treated […] Read more

Canada doesn’t have to abandon its commitment to the rules-based international trading order just to survive in the new era of me-first politics.  |  REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker photo

Current trade environment not just an either/or scenario

At some point we might have to accept that this new trade reality is actually real. And we’ll have to react to that reality by changing the way we farm, act and interact with the rest of the world. That’s something quite a few Canadians are grappling with in light of the ongoing and no-end-in-sight […] Read more

Canada must rebuild its risk management safety net to include specific trade dispute damage, considering what is happening to export markets around the world.  |  File photo

Market access loss may force risk management overhaul

I heard two things recently that made me think Canada’s farm risk management programs have a gaping hole. “It’s like we’re continually targeted. How do we deal with this?” Bill Campbell, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, said to me during the Manitoba Protein Summit. “As a primary producer, am I going to be taking risk […] Read more

The industry has spent decades working on how to extract protein and other compounds from crops. The effort is now manifesting itself in the increasing supply of plant-based protein products, such as this burger patty made with black beans and canola protein powder, which was photographed last month at Burcon’s alternative meats protein lab in Winnipeg.  |   REUTERS/Shannon VanRaes photo

Plant-based protein craze is not an overnight sensation

Yup, this plant protein explosion shows how a new market can come out of nowhere and become an overnight success. That’s what tens of millions of consumers, food processors and providers everywhere are probably thinking right now as everybody rushes to fill their shelves, menus and fridges with plant protein sources. It’s the biggest thing […] Read more

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