The R-Brief Vol. 7

Grain Markets

Canola prices saw some volatility over the last few weeks, falling to as low as $445 CAD/Mt on the first of March. Prices have since rebounded, making their way back above $480 CAD/Mt this past week. This time last year marked the beginning of a swift $100 move to the upside, before giving up those gains over the course of the growing season. We will be watching price movements closely in the coming months, looking for patterns and similarities between this and last year.


Soybean markets have had an interesting few weeks. At one point bean prices fell for six straight days, breaking below $860 USD/bu before quickly rebounding back above $875 USD/bu just a few trading sessions later. Prices have since continued to rise and currently sit around $910 USD/bu.


Wheat prices similarly moved in both directions over the last few weeks, albeit with lower volatility relative to Canola and Soybeans. Prices fell below 450 USD/bu for a brief period, but quickly made their way back to around $475 USD/bu, before falling again to around $450 USD/bu this past week.

Agriculture In the News

Area One in the news! Area One Farms was the subject of a lengthy feature in the Financial Post this past week. Written by Alia Dharssi, the article focused heavily on our company's co-founder, President and CEO, Joelle Faulkner, and the events that led her to creating what became Area One Farms. The story also featured one of our Alberta operators and a Montreal-based investor, who both shed light on how and why Area One was the right choice for them. You can read the entire in-depth feature, here.

Canada needs more farmers. According to a recent study conducted by the Conference Board of Canada, the Canadian agriculture sector is currently short around 60,000 workers and projected to balloon to over 100,000 by 2025. Interestingly, the current shortage is "three times greater than labour shortages in other Canadian industries — a problem worsened by the industry’s rural location and aging population". The study also found that Immigration won't be able to make up for the shortfalls. Only about 3 percent of new immigrants to Canada end up in agriculture. Read more about that story here, another article from the Manitoba Co-operator here, and this story that suggests laid off oil workers might find heir way into agriculture, here.

Farm Credit Canada is giving its Young Farmers Loan Program a boost. FCC recently announced a 500 million dollar increase to the program, which launched in 2012 and is geared towards providing loans to producers under the age of 40. Since its inception, the program has handed out over 6,000 loans, amounting to a total of more than 1.4 billion dollars. Farmers between the ages of 18-39 make up only 7.5 percent of the industry. The FCC hopes that programs like theirs can attract more younger producers to agriculture. Read more on that story, here.

Seattle "Steak-holders". A unique American start up called "Crowd Cow" is offering customers a very different way to purchase fresh cuts of beef. Currently operating out of Seattle, the concept lets bidders secure specific parts of a cow until all of the animal is spoken for and the auction is complete. It is only once the auction has been completely filled that the animal is processed and deliveries are made. The company's founders wanted to come up with a sustainable way to ensure consumers could purchase high quality beef directly from farmers. Read more on that story from The Guardian here.

Trump Knows Tractors. In his speech after winning multiple Republican primaries on the famed 'Super Tuesday', Donald Trump revealed more details about his plan to build a wall on the US/Mexican border. The Republican front runner told his supporters "I only want to use Caterpillar, if you want to know the truth, or John Deere. I buy a lot of equipment from John Deere. I love John Deere, too". Trump proclaimed that building a 1,000 mile long wall on the Mexican border shouldn't be difficult- reminding everyone that "the Great Wall of China is 13,000 miles folks, and they didn't have Caterpillar tractors". You can read the full transcript of that victory speech here.

Technology

DJI is going all in on agriculture. Shenzhen-based DJI Innovation Technology Co., China's largest commercial hobby drone manufacturer, is setting up an extensive servicing network for its newly introduced agriculture-specific drones. The company announced that it would train roughly 10,000 people across China to operate the drones, and set up more than 100 service centers that will specialize in maintaining and repairing DJI products. Additionally, the company will offer subsidies to 10,000 people to start business in the agriculture drone space. DJI launched its first agricultural drone, the MG-1, in November. Read more about DJI's new agricultural initiatives here.