Workers level soybeans on the ship Kypros Land as it prepares to sail to China from the Tiplam terminal in Santos, Brazil. There are already reports that China is buying more soybeans from Brazil than normal and less from the United States because of a trade dispute between the two countries.  |  REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker photo

China-U.S. trade tensions could drag on for months

Some soybean traders last week were gullible enough to believe rumours that great progress was made in the first serious face-to-face meeting of American and Chinese negotiators in the trade dispute between the world’s two leading economies. A U.S. trade delegation of cabinet secretaries led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was in China May 3-4 […] Read more

Farm groups are demanding tougher labelling laws as meat-like food products prepare to compete with the real deal.  |  Getty image

Reputation more important than labels in food business

You won’t find vegetarian products labelled as burgers, steaks, sausages or even bacon-flavoured in France. And to get the monikers dairy, milk or cheese, the product must come from an animal, not almonds or soy. France’s parliament recently approved the measures and now the U.S. National Farmers Union, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association and the National […] Read more

Crude has been rising for almost a year, supported by voluntary production limits and rising demand as economies around the world pick up pace. | File photo

Rising crude oil could lend support to canola values

Crude oil hitting the highest price in three years is positive for oilseed prices but it does not necessarily drive them higher because of other pricing factors, such as supply and demand as well as trade issues. These latter factors have spurred canola to a strong premium over competing oilseeds. Strong crude oil prices help […] Read more


Farmers on the northern U.S. Plains are considering spring wheat over corn this spring.  |  File photo

U.S. farmers face greater uncertainty this spring

With huge political and trade uncertainty as well as tight cropping margins at the top of mind for American farmers, a long general trend of rising corn and soybean acreages could take a pause this year. Farmers on the northern U.S. Plains are considering spring wheat over corn this spring, and those in the southern […] Read more

What a difference a year makes. Last year when this photo was taken excessive rain was the problem in Argentina. This year, a La Nina is holding back rain from the country’s soybean fields. | Reuters photo

La Nina makes its presence felt; Argentina dry, Australia wet

The water in the Pacific east and central equatorial region is cooling and climate forecasters say we are officially in a weak La Nina. However, the situation already appears to be influencing weather. Just before I delve into the La Nina situation, I’ll draw your attention to the Statistics Canada crop production report that came […] Read more


Alibaba Group executive chair Jack Ma and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hold lobsters, representing one of the most popular Canadian foods available on the giant Chinese online retail platform.
|  Alibaba photo

Canadian processors strangely quiet on online grocery opportunities

It appears consumers around the world are increasingly turning to online venues to do their shopping. The headlines out of the United States about the big Black Friday retail push this past weekend emphasized the growing market share of online retail. Groceries are not excluded from this trend, and major food companies are starting to […] Read more

Sales to China easier if meal improved

I might be presumptuous, but I think China’s capacity for canola imports is better than the pessimistic outlook issued by a major Chinese grain company executive. Felix Muller, head of global soft seeds for COFCO International, last week said China’s imports will likely be capped at about 10 percent above the current level. We’ve reported […] Read more

The falling loonie had more market impact than Saskatchewan Agriculture’s yield estimates or China’s wheat policy reform.  |  File photo

Special deal: three topics in one column

I’ll address several issues in this week’s column, from Saskatchewan crop yields to the value of the Canadian dollar to China’s changing support for domestic wheat producers. Currency dips The biggest market mover last week was the Canadian dollar’s decline to trade just below US78 cents. Only last month, most Canadian currency analysts predicted the […] Read more


Brazilian soybeans are loaded for shipment to China. The Asian giant’s voracious soybean demand often surprises forecasters but policy changes might cool demand for imports.  |  Reuters photo

China’s policy change bad for soybean imports

The adage is that big crops get bigger but that does not appear to be the case in U.S. soybeans this year. The trade last week expected the United States Department of Agriculture to raise its yield forecasts for corn and soybeans in its monthly report. It did raise the corn yield, but it lowered […] Read more

A farmer straight cuts peas on a field north of Brandon. A wide range of prairie crop conditions will make forecasting difficult.  |  Jeannette Greaves photo

August crop forecasts tend to underestimate

Trying to forecast final production when the crop is still growing is like shooting at a fast-moving target. Statistics Canada planned to release its first projection of Canada’s 2017 crop on Aug. 31, after this column was written. We’ll have full same-day coverage on our website and also in next week’s paper. UPDATE: You can […] Read more