The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the domestic supply of soybeans relative to demand at year end is about 22.5 percent, well up from last year’s 10 percent and 7.5 percent two years ago.  |  REUTERS/Jose Roberto Gomes photo

Burdensome stocks weigh heavily on crop markets

China’s expanding trade restrictions are a serious situation that deserves the spotlight but growers must also understand there are additional reasons for the drop in crop prices in recent months. The market was not “buying acres” this spring, focusing instead on the prospect of large stocks-to-use ratios. That fact gets lost as every few days […] Read more

The Chinese demand for food affects almost everything in agriculture as political priorities change and disease outbreaks alter market trends.  |  Reuters/Jason Lee photo

China has big impact but don’t ignore food processors

What are the connections between falling Canadian soybean acreage, a Rabobank analysis of the impact of African swine fever in China, strong beef exports to Asia, and reports by Food and Consumer Products of Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce on impediments to food industry sustainability and competitiveness? For the purposes of this column […] Read more

Markets subdued as producers begin spring seeding

Following a dry winter, most of the Canadian Prairies could do with a good rain but many American producers wish for drier weather. Long range forecasts show potential for rain on the Prairies at the end of this month or early May. Meanwhile, moisture south of the border has been of the frozen type. A […] Read more


It’s widely believed that China is holding Canadian canola hostage because of Canada’s handling of a U.S. extradition request involving a senior Chinese business executive.  |  Reuters photo

Over-dependence on one volatile market is a problem

Canola prices have fallen to around the same low level they hit the last time we were having trade issues with China back in the summer of 2016. Back then, China’s concern was the level of dockage and its potential to raise the introduction of blackleg disease. The Chinese are being less specific this time, […] Read more

A fall-seeded rapeseed field blooms near Cambrai, France, last April. Dryness in Western Europe is raising concerns about the condition of fall-seeded crops as they prepare to come out of dormancy soon.  |  REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol photo

Spring weather will soon become market consideration

Dry weather in North Africa and parts of Europe as well as worries about the potential for delayed spring seeding in the U.S. Midwest will likely start to be issues for market discussion in the coming weeks. So far in 2019 crop prices have been lackadaisical, weighed down by ample world stocks and the ongoing […] Read more


Large supply in the United States has hurt hog futures, but some analysts think help could be coming from China, where the country might have to start buying more pork to offset massive herd liquidations caused by African swine fever.  |  File photo

Speculation grows about future Chinese pork imports

Hog producers might have dodged a fourth-quarter price collapse, but futures since then have cratered as American pork production exceeded expectations. But hog futures prices could rally later this year depending on what happens in China as it battles African swine fever in its herd. One Canadian analyst, Jim Long, suggests that once the unprecedented […] Read more

The fight in Washington over the Renewable Fuel Standard will have major implications for the future state of the ethanol industry.  | File photo

U.S. ethanol future tied to bumper crop of D.C. politics

Ethanol producers in the United States achieved another record year in 2018, with production climbing 1.9 percent to 16.1 billion U.S. gallons processed from about 5.6 billion bushels of corn, or about 38 percent of the 2017-18 crop. But ethanol producers are not content. They are vexed by the actions of the U.S. Environmental Protection […] Read more

The increasing productivity of new technology makes possible reductions in the carbon footprint of each unit of agricultural production,which is a compelling brand that farmers, processors and government can all present.  |  File photo

Science partnership is good branding for agriculture

Success in marketing often rests on how you can differentiate your product from the other guy’s — in other words, branding. Branding is your image and the way you portray the story of your product. Tim Hortons is all about everyday Canadians, hockey and the grit needed to get through winter, while Starbucks portrays urban […] Read more


It’s possible that changing choices at the grocery store are the beginning of a permanent shift in lifestyle.  |  File photo

Move to meatless meals will affect livestock producers

A grocery flyer in my daily newspaper a few days after New Year’s Day caused me to raise my eyebrows. Featuring foods such as almond and coconut drinks, gluten-free pasta, and veggie protein meat replacement products, it was dedicated to vegetarian and organic foods, protein powders and vitamins. But it did not come from a […] Read more

Studies such as the recent Canada’s Food Price Report 2019 are often taken out of context by emphasizing the worst possible outcomes. In actual fact, the study’s findings aren’t as bad as what has been reported.  |  File photo

Food costs might rise modestly but are still affordable

One challenge journalists face is to provide context to the issues and events they cover while mindful of the space and time constraints inherent in their medium. Facts by themselves might yield little meaning or the wrong meaning if they are not given context. I yearned for a little more context in the reporting on […] Read more