The R-Brief Vol. 10


Grain Markets

Canola prices have been very strong as of late. After trading as high as $530 CAD/mt. in mid June of this year, Canola prices retreated, hitting their summer lows in early August at around $445 CAD/mt. Prices managed to bounce slightly in the latter part of the summer, but the fall has been a whole other story. Strong worldwide demand for vegetable oils and problems with Canada's Canola harvest, have caused Canola prices to rise materially. Prices have risen sharply over the past month and are currently around $520 CAD/mt.

Soybean prices saw a large move to the upside last spring, climbing from their March lows of $860 USD/bu. all the way up to $1,160 USD/bu. by early June. Prices have cooled off slightly since, but still remain above $1,000 USD/bu. Soybean meal prices, on the other hand, have been very strong this fall as a result of the same market conditions currently benefitting Canola prices.

Wheat prices have fallen materially since trading above $500 USD/bu. in early June of this year. Prices went on to collapse, and were trading as low $388 USD/bu. by the end of August. Wheat markets have managed to bounce slightly since then, with prices currently sitting at just below $420 USD/bu.


Agriculture In The News

I, Farmer. Staff at Harper Adams University along with specialists from Precision Decisions are attempting to farm a hectare of land without ever stepping foot on it. The project is called "hands free hectare", and the goal is to farm it with fully autonomous machinery. The researchers envision a future where field work is extremely limited, but they balk at the notion that this technology will take away people's jobs- they will just alter them. “The tractor driver won’t be physically in the tractor driving up and down a field. Instead, they will be a fleet manager and agricultural analysts, looking after a number of farming robots and meticulously monitoring the development of their crops.” Read more about this story, Here.

Fleet Master.  Watch an incredible video from CASE IH putting their autonomous technology currently in development on display, Here.

Consecuitive Records? A new report suggests that the record setting year for agricultural technology investment in 2015, will be surpassed by 2016. Investments are coming in many forms, but the main area is in agriculture technology. New technologies being introduced to agriculture have led to many new start-ups, just as depressed commodity prices have cut farm incomes. Farm operators are increasingly turning to these new technologies to maintain profitability through efficiency. This may explain the optimism in a sector that is currently experiencing declining incomes.  Read the rest of that story, from Bloomberg, Here.

The WAZE of Agriculture? Scantask, an Israeli Startup founded in 2008, is set to unveil its new and innovative agriculture software platform next week at the World Agri-Tech Investment Summit in London. The program is called "Agritask" and it works by leveraging cloud computing to crowdsource massive amounts of information in order to give farmers better decision making information. Read more about Agritask Here, and Here.

AWOL. Some temporary foreign workers employed by Canadian farms are going on the run to avoid returning to their countries of origin. Roughly 40,000 foreign workers are hired by Canadian farms each year through special programs. They are given four year work permits, after which they must return to their home countries. Some have decided against the latter, and have instead gone on the run. In Quebec alone, 100 Guatemalan temporary workers have gone AWOL. Read that story, Here.

Winner, Winner, Canola Dinner. Unfavourable conditions affecting Canola crops in certain areas of Alberta and Saskatchewan have made winners out of some Canadian farmers. Those who managed to get their Canola harvested on schedule are benefitting from rising prices as supply fears grow. Saskatchewan still has as much as 20 percent of its crop unharvested. On top of the Canadian supply issues, Canola prices are also benefitting from increased demand for vegetable oils as Asia's most prevalent vegetable oil, palm oil, is experiencing major supply shortages. Read about how one Canadian farmer is benefitting from the situation Here. And read about the current forces at work in the vegetable oil industry via Reuters, Here.

Farming Truths, and Reconciliation. There is a small but very special farm located in of all places, Mission, British Columbia. It's a fitting name for a place with a farm that is undeniably on a unique mission. At this farm, incarcerated offenders from two nearby prisons work 6 hour shifts alongside victims of crimes. It is called Emma's acres, it sits on 3.2 hectares of land roughly 140km from Vancouver, and has been in operation since 2013. The hope is that it can help both criminals and victims alike get to a "better place". Read the fascinating piece from the CBC, Here.

Northernmost Exposure. Meet the couple who run Ontario's northern-most farm operation. The animal farm is located near Pickle Lake, Ontario, which sits roughly 530 Km north of Thunder Bay. Jeremy and Liana Millar started to keep animals there last year, and so far the pigs, turkeys, sheep, and even a cow they are tending to have been handling the far north very well. They also have had no traces of any sorts of diseases, something they attribute to the uniquely cold locale. "We've had no problems with disease, or lice, or mites or any of those infestations that you find in warmer climate farms, Liana said, "they can't survive here." Read the full story, also via the CBC, Here.


Richard RubensteinComment