Latest articles

Using ratios to calculate your farm’s performance

Use this simple but powerful tool to see how you’re really doing on your farm

Last month, we looked at how a review and assessment of your marketing can help make your production sales more balanced, easier to manage and ultimately more profitable. This month, we’ll look at how these marketing practices are part of a bigger picture called gross margin efficiencies. As we all know, commodity sales are your […] Read more

Watch agricultural commodity markets for seasonal patterns

Taking advantage of these trends to your benefit is both an art and science

Seasonality in farm commodity prices is a commonly followed market indicator and it makes some sense. Given crops are planted in the spring, subject to weather throughout the growing season and then harvested in the fall, they follow a natural pattern throughout the calendar year. But the more important question is: can you profit from […] Read more

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