The Prebisch-Singer hypothesis

It isn’t fun being a farmer living inside an economic theory if that theory states that crop prices will get lower over time. But that’s the fate of farmers, according to the Prebisch-Singer hypothesis. And aware of the hypothesis or not, most prairie farmers act in accordance with its dictates. “Efficiency. Right size. Right size […] Read more

Understanding the price roller coaster

Ignore the headlines; farmers advised
to do their homework before making 
long-term investment decisions

Farmers can be forgiven if they are confused about what a commodity supercycle is and whether they are living inside one. Bold headlines and fuzzy prognosticators make the situation confusing. “The commodities supercycle is a myth,” said one research article headline in December 2016. A month later Bloomberg news service reported: “Two bullish signs herald […] Read more

Navigating BREXIT

Calgary-based Western Producer reporter Barbara Duckworth was in Britain recently and spoke with farmers and policy makers about BREXIT and what it could mean for the country’s agricultural industry. In that understated English way, Brian Lear describes BREXIT as a “bit of a mess.” The English beef producer wonders where agriculture sits on the agenda […] Read more


So what happens next?

For many farmers in the United Kingdom, the aftermath of succession from the European Union could be nicknamed Nexit. The decision to leave the 40-year-old relationship in 2019 has left many people in agriculture swimming in a sea of uncertainty as everything from farmer payments, labour availability, regulations, tariffs and border controls is up for […] Read more

When Jeff Penner travelled to Liberia last year, he had excellent cellphone service everywhere, from down in the deepest darkest jungle swamp up to the highest remote mountain peaks. 
| Photo via Flickr/rnw.org

Seamless cell service … in African wilderness

When Jeff Penner travelled to Liberia last year, he had excellent cellphone service everywhere, from down in the deepest darkest jungle swamp up to the highest remote mountain peaks. “Last June, I spent 10 days around Greenville, Liberia, in the heart of the African jungle, where Ebola started,” says Penner. “I had four bars on […] Read more


Cell service: a basic utility

Cellular signals have become an anchor for many of the precision agriculture tools that have been or are being developed for the industry. Trouble is, farming is small when it comes to telecommunications. Farming is relatively small for IT in general. Everything for ag costs more because developers and suppliers have to earn enough to […] Read more

Rural cell service: where it’s at — or isn’t

The coloured maps depicting cellular service across the Prairies don’t paint an accurate picture. The dead spots are conspicuous by their absence. Even the Trans-Canada Highway is pocked with no signal pits. Many developing nations have better cell coverage at a lower cost, according to Manitoba farmer and entrepreneur Jeff Penner, who spent time in […] Read more

Cellular connection

Cellular tools on the farm are growing faster than the networks that support them. In the vast, 150 million acres that are farmed and ranched in Western Canada cellular service is often defined by the population and potential data charges it creates. Farmers are becoming fewer and further between, while the technology that supports them […] Read more


Australian farmer Michael Inwood prepares his no-till drill, which is pulled by an electric truck on his farm near Bathurst, about 163 kilometres west of Sydney in May of 2009. Australian farmers were being encouraged by the government of the day to shift their practices to create more carbon sequestration in exchange for soil carbon credits. |   REUTERS/Tim Wimborne photo

Carbon tax Down Under went under

This is the final instalment examining the issues surrounding carbon pricing, greenhouse gas emissions and how farmers can do their share without having to pay more than their fair share 
to do it.

Some Australian farmers saw their costs rise as new taxes shifted money from producers and processors to carbon reduction projects across that continent. However, a change in government put a stop to all that. Half a dozen years ago, a Labour government in Australia brought in an ambitious program that quantified greenhouse gas emissions from […] Read more

Farm equipment manufacturers have been working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through better engine performance.  |  File photo

Can equipment makers do more to make a greener machine?

Major technological breakthroughs designed to reduce the carbon footprint of diesel engine emissions may not be coming any time soon. “I don’t know of any new technology coming down the pipe,” said Harvey Chorney of the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute in Winnipeg. “I think they (equipment manufacturers) have gone as far as they can in […] Read more