Check out risk vs. reward on crop choices

Small profitability for most western Canadian crops and losses for others: that’s the bottom line outlook from Manitoba Agriculture’s farm management team. It highlights the need for farmers to take their production and marketing math seriously in these times of narrow margins. That’s especially true because the underlying risks in many of the crops are […] Read more

New cash market information and marketing services available online provide farmers with the tools needed for price discovery in the post-CWB world.  |  William Dekay photo

Thriving cash market survives wheat board demise

This year felt like the year the prairie cash grain market came of age. As with all situations of life, growth and aging, this one contains elements that have flourished and prospered and those that have weakened and died. While marketing platforms, marketing advisers and price competition grew more transparent and robust, some post-Canadian Wheat […] Read more

There’s a real risk that Statistics Canada will further reduce its crucial production of agricultural stats as different interests fight for favour within the federal government, as spending cuts become a government focus and as the dreamy possibilities of our digital age distract the agency from doing boring old surveys.
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Time to speak up for Statistics Canada

It’s time to stop taking Statistics Canada for granted and to show it a little love. It’s also time to let your members of Parliament, your farm organization leaders and your fellow farmers know just how important the agency is for agriculture. There’s a real risk that Statistics Canada will further reduce its crucial production […] Read more

Weather disasters often offer a short price rally window. |  Getty photo

Weather-generated flash rallies requires quick action

Farmers might be frustrated when major negative weather events fail to stimulate lasting price rallies, but they should learn to value the opportunities generated by weather rallies that are too good to last. That’s what we saw with the recent wheat market rally ignited by the snowstorm and heavy rain that hit the southern U.S. […] Read more

Clubroot infected fields can become unworkable for canola, forcing growers to switch to less profitable crops.  |  File photo

Desperately seeking profit may lead to disaster

Canola is many farmers’ biggest moneymaker, and good crop rotation is many farmers’ best financial hedge. However, those two factors have collided in a way that is undermining not only individual farmers’ security but also those of their neighbours, and even the future of the canola industry itself. For two decades, I’ve heard agronomists urge […] Read more

Thoughts, theories, lots of questions for 2017

This is the traditional time for lists of things likely or possible to happen in the coming year, so here are mine for 2017’s agricultural markets: I throw this in here because it could actually happen and because most of the rest of my list is dismal. If world growth begins grinding higher, that will […] Read more

Late season rain wreaks havoc with crop quality

All of a sudden it seems like “Game on!” for new crop marketing. Instead of a clogged grain handling system glutted with mountains of good wheat, oceans of canola and piles of beautiful lentils, it now looks like farmers and the industry will be moving a far more variegated crop and there will be many […] Read more

As an example of what can happen in a particular market, prices can collapse when hog supply exceeds packer capacity.  |  File photo

Watch for wild cards when hedging market risks

Here’s a good example of how a professional risk management specialist looks into a key window. It’s a way to see the mental mathematics you need to be master of if you want to adequately address your market risk in any commodity. Set-up The fourth quarter of each year brings unique risk in hog markets. […] Read more

Canada’s grain reputation is at risk unless the entire industry can figure out how to better track customer satisfaction.  |  File photo

Farmers need first-hand market assessment

It’s possible that Canada has thrown away its grain quality advantage and farmers don’t even know it. It’s not yet clear that this is happening, but producers need to wake up and demand that all parts of the grain industry ensure Canada’s hard-won reputation is maintained. Farmers need to know what customers think about the […] Read more

Future markets indicate it’s unlikely that producers will see a quick return to the higher commodity prices of 2006-13.  |  File illustration

Profits will be harder to find in future markets

Welcome back to normal. It’s not nice, it’s not easy and it will destroy some, but unfortunately in farming, zero margins like those of today are the norm in a century and a half of North American crop production. Over the long, long term, the cost of producing crops averages about what farmers as a […] Read more