Latest articles

Thinking in bets

A poker champ turned strategy consultant can help you understand markets a bit better

Last month I explored a book called History’s Worst Predictions And The People Who Made Them, and the simple conclusion was that predicting the future is difficult. I said that: “While there is nothing wrong with financial forecasts or market outlooks, be careful of right or wrong statements and all or nothing thinking. Avoid words […] Read more

Fortune teller reading future with crystal ball

Cracked crystal balls abound

Predictions have a funny way of turning out spectacularly wrong

Over spring break, I read a fascinating book called History’s Worst Predictions And The People Who Made Them, by Eric Chaline. It covers predictions since Roman times from topics including war, financial markets, technology, economics as well as end of the world or doomsday scenarios. What made it so interesting was not that these predictions […] Read more

Fall harvest showed little market impact

A tough fall usually has little effect on harvest or prices in the end

The great thing about writing these articles is I get to learn along with readers. I get to answer questions and address timely topics that hopefully allow farm business owners to think differently about markets and dig deeper into common practices and beliefs or simply question conventional wisdom and anecdotal evidence. So, given the attention […] Read more

The ABCs of cattle options and futures

These tools can help you manage both your costs and your revenue

An estimated 27,000 cattle producers across the Prairies manage about nine million head in cow-calf, feeder and stocker operations worth approximately $8 billion, according to StatsCan data. That’s a lot of money. So it’s no surprise more and more cattle producers want to learn about price protection for their cattle. Speaking with producers at the […] Read more

Risk and volatility not necessarily same

Hedging Your Bets: Current canola and farmland prices are examples of markets at risk of a sudden change

When thinking about risk, there can be a lot of different interpretations. Risk does not have to mean volatility but the two tend to work in conjunction. One way to define risk is ‘the consequence of not meeting your goals.’ One of my favourite authors on the topic of market risk and practical trading ideas […] Read more

Paved with good intentions

Early production estimates start with seeding intentions, which may or may not materialize

When I started in the business in 1995 on the floor of the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange, being the rookie, I remember running to get the StatsCan reports from the government office on the day of a big release. Even back then, I thought it was counterproductive to worry too much about those reports. After the […] Read more

Don’t let currencies drive you ‘loonie’

There are a few practical ways to look at managing currency fluctuations

A question I often get asked at hedging workshops and marketing presentations is about currency risk management. In particular, how to best manage it from a practical point of view. Farmers ultimately get paid in Canadian dollars, even though their commodity is priced either directly or indirectly in U.S. dollars. Whether it’s a flat price […] Read more

Where are canola prices going?

To answer that question you’ll need a good handle on factors around the world affecting the oilseed complex

A question I get asked a lot is, “Where are canola prices going?” That’s not something you can answer just by looking out your back door, throughout your province, or even across the Prairies. You really have to look around the world at all oilseed markets to get a better sense of where our canola […] Read more

Is a strong loonie a bad thing for Canadian farmers?

There’s no doubt our currency’s fluctuation has effects, but they’re not always well understood

From a high of 1.10 to lows of 60 cents per U.S. dollar over the past several decades, the value of the loonie has always had an impact on Canadian farmers. While these fluctuations certainly will influence crop prices we receive here in Canada, what effect does it really have? Is a strong loonie really […] Read more

The art and science of farm marketing

There are no pat or easy answers for marketing commodities as each commodity is different

Farm marketing like most aspects of a farm business is a mix of art and science, of theory and practice. And, it’s important to understand and apply both. This reminds me of a quote by American playwright Wilson Mizner: “Art is science made clear.” I’ll try to combine them both so you gain a better […] Read more