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

Farmers say the cash advance program can be a distraction from the more important parts of their business.  |  File photo

Cash advances often not worth the hassle for farmers

When is free money not worth it? When it’s too much hassle in a business where time is money. That’s the message I’m getting from a number of farmers I’ve talked with about why they don’t use cash advances, which seem like free money, in a theoretical sense. In reality, the financial gain just doesn’t […] Read more

Farmers need to start clamouring for better grain transportation infrastructure if they don’t want to suffer the fate of oilsand producers.  |  File photo

Oil trouble shows risk of grain bottlenecks

You’re probably used to grain transportation constrictions costing you money and messing up your marketing plan. Don’t be too comfortable with that uncomfortable reality. It could get worse — a bunch worse. If you think 2013-14 or 1996-97 were bad, be thankful they were mostly one-year phenomena. Look over your fence line, or at the […] Read more

The Americans’ recent bungling of trade files means their country is far behind Canada, which must make the most of these new-found opportunities.  |  File photo

U.S. trade mess is Canada’s chance to gain advantage

So, what now? With the U.S. midterm elections done, we have more certainty about who has the power and influence in Washington for the next two years. Unfortunately, that doesn’t provide a lot of certainty for trade. Will the U.S. approve NAFTA2? Will the U.S. attempt to get back into the new Trans-Pacific Partnership? Most […] Read more

The failure of interest rates to rise during the financial crisis in 2008 is credited with spurring the massive agricultural expansion that followed.  |  REUTERS/Mark Blinch photo

2008 crisis showed importance of interest rates

Editor’s note: This is the fifth of a series of columns looking at the lessons learned from the financial crisis of 2008. Basic assumptions failed. Reasonable expectations were vexed. Predicting the future became perilous for any prognosticator. However, Phil Shaw found an old lesson verified in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008-09: interest […] Read more

Supply management could be ready for some further consideration after the trade deals that have recently given up ground to international markets.  |  Michael Raine photo

Canada’s supply managed sectors must now avoid stagnation

Ed White’s series on lessons learned from the financial crisis of 10 years ago will resume next week. Now is the time to face up to the bad math that threatens to throttle the future of the Canadian dairy industry. In the aftermath of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, there is a lot of talk of […] Read more

Traders in the corn options pit at the CME Group signal orders shortly before the closing bell in Chicago, Feb. 11, 2011. Large speculators trimmed their net-long stakes in Chicago Board of Trade corn futures and options by adding shorts to their position as prices approached 2-1/2-year highs.  |  REUTERS/Frank Polich photo

Manage farms like low-margin, high-volume businesses

Editor’s note: This is the fourth of a series of columns looking at the lessons learned from the financial crisis of 2008. There’s no sure-fire way for a farm protect itself against crash risk. The 2008-09 financial crisis proved that, and it sent a shockwave through the farming and agriculture industries, causing immense damage and […] Read more

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

Editor’s note: This is the first of a series of columns looking at the lessons learned from the financial crisis of 2008. 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 […] 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