The R-Brief Vol. 11


Grain Markets

Canola prices retreated last week for the first time in over a month, falling to just above $500 CAD/mt. This week has been more positive, with prices bouncing back to just below $515 CAD/mt.

Soybean prices have been relatively unchanged over the last couple of weeks, and continue to trade in a tight range in and around $1,000 USD/bu.

Wheat prices continue to struggle and currently are trading only slightly above $400 USD/bu.


Agriculture In The News

The New Face of Canadian Agriculture. Maclean's recently featured a fascinating in-depth look at the changing landscape of Canadian farming. Subjects that are covered in the piece range from the demographic crisis facing an ageing agricultural workforce, a University program in Surrey targeting first generation farmers, a unique Montreal-based urban beehive-keeping company, the first food-grade Cricket farm in Canada, the growth of community supported agriculture where "shareholders" are delivered fresh produce, an Ontario-based aerial field scouting business that operates high-tech drones, and a project at the University of Guelph that's developing a modular hydroponic system to grow produce in extremely harsh environments. Read the whole story, Here.

Capital Gains. The latest Assessment notices sent out to farmers in and around Ottawa show a massive appreciation in Farmland values over the last 4 years. According to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, farmland values in the Ottawa area rose by 22 percent a year since 2012. The substantial rise in values can be attributed to local farms expanding their operations, and also to land buyers from outside the region, mainly from southern Ontario. MPAC Vice President Rose McLean noted that "The [value] per acre in eastern Ontario is still lower than the values in southwestern Ontario. So, what we'd been seeing is buyers from southern Ontario, who are in search of lower-priced land, looking east." Read the rest of that story from the CBC, Here.

Syrian Farmers? A Calgary-based group is working to create a program to get Syrian refugees, and other immigrants with agricultural experience, working on Alberta farms. The Centre For Newcomers, a resettlement service group, is currently in negotiations with multiple agricultural groups, and hopes to have the project up and running by next spring. Even with It's high unemployment rate, Alberta farm operations are struggling to find dedicated and committed farm employees. Many Farmers are becoming increasingly more open to the idea of having Syrian workers on their farms- barring no major communication issues. Read more about the program and the struggles of some Alberta farmers to find and keep new employees, Here.

Intermodal Hydroponics. Tamara Knott, a farmer in British Columbia, is producing 45 kilograms of leafy greens every week in a greenhouse that was formerly a shipping container. The one-time reefer shipping container has been retrofitted with computer controlled climate, artificial light, and irrigation systems. Currently, the container is growing eight different kinds of lettuce, and selling then mostly to local restaurants under a brand name. The unit cost was roughly $82,000, which Knott says should be recouped in roughly a year and a half. Read this story, and watch a short video about the unique greenhouse, Here.

Growing the Arctic. A conference on Arctic Agriculture was recently held in Reykjavik, Iceland hosted by the Circumpolar Agriculture Association. The meetings focused on ways that agriculture in the far north will change over the next few decades. The group's President, Torfi Jóhannesson, explained that " Agriculture will be possible in many places where it is not now”. In Fairbanks, Alaska for example, frost-free days have almost doubled since 1990. Certain countries with northern exposure will see their agriculture sectors benefit over the coming decades. A recent study undertaken in Greenland showed that hay production could increase by 50 percent in the country by the end of the century. Read that story, Here, and another related story from the same publication on Norway's increased focus on its agriculture sector as a result of climate change, Here.

Make America's Farm Sector Great Again. After the initial shock of Donald Trump being elected the 45th American President, some were wondering what the Trump win meant for American Agriculture and what his policies toward the sector might look like. FarmFutures put together a list of Trump's past statements concerning Agriculture, which you can read Here. Read about how JP Morgan downgraded Archer Daniels Midland Corporation shares citing Trumps win as disadvantageous to the American Agriculture sector, Here. Lastly, read about the controversial Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, Trump's rumoured Agricultural Secretary, Here.

Richard RubensteinComment