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Corn as cash: Brazil’s bartering farmers raise risks for Canada’s Nutrien

Lack of credit makes for an interesting and unfamiliar business environment in this Latin American powerhouse

Taking a page from its aggressive growth strategy in the United States, cash-rich Canadian fertilizer giant Nutrien plans to plow investment into Brazil in a bid to reap up to 30 per cent of farm supply sales in fertile pockets of the country. But business in Brazil’s farm sector — the world’s fastest growing — […] Read more


Battle of the beans

Monsanto faces a tough fight for the soybean market

Monsanto is facing major threats to its historic dominance of seed and herbicide technology for the US$40-billion U.S. soybean market. Rivals BASF and DowDuPont are preparing to push their own varieties of genetically modified soybeans. At stake is control over seed supply for the next generation of farmers producing the most valuable U.S. agricultural export. […] Read more



Chicago style hot dog with deli mustard and green relish

Bakers, farmers struggle to make a little dough

A poor crop is wreaking havoc on bakers and creating market opportunities for high-protein wheat

Chicago’s iconic sandwiches — Italian beef heroes dripping with gravy, and hotdogs loaded with pickles and hot peppers — wouldn’t be such culinary institutions without the bread. But this fall, bakers faced a crisis getting the right kind of bread to delis and sandwich shops locally and across the United States. Gonnella Baking Co. — […] Read more


Merged fertilizer firm Nutrien eyes U.S. farm suppliers

Regulatory-driven divestitures are creating a sizable war chest for acquisitions

Nutrien, the company to be formed from the merger of Agrium and PotashCorp of Saskatchewan, plans to expand its U.S. farm supply network and return cash to shareholders, Chuck Magro, Agrium CEO, said Nov. 15, as it leverages unusually flush coffers during an agriculture slump. Regulators in China and India require Potash to divest minority […] Read more



Drowning in grains once again

How Big Ag sowed seeds of a profit-slashing glut

On Canada’s fertile Prairies, dominated by the yellows and golds of canola and wheat, summers are too short to grow corn on a major scale. But Monsanto is working to develop what it hopes will be North America’s fastest-maturing corn, allowing farmers to grow more in Western Canada and other inhospitable climates, such as Ukraine. The seed […] Read more


Slumping fertilizer makers turn to high-margin industrial uses

Fertilizer makers are seeking market alternatives wherever they can find them

Fertilizer makers are taking advantage of higher profit margins for uses in other industries, such as oil drilling and livestock feed, to ride out a severe slump. Potash and phosphate prices touched multi-year lows last year due to a capacity glut and soft crop prices. Higher and more stable returns for some industrial applications are […] Read more



Chemical companies pitch bug-killing options

Some environmentalists say just switching to new products won’t solve the underlying problem

Companies that make bug-killing chemicals and natural remedies are racing to take advantage of restrictions on neonics, blamed for harming bees and mayflies. Global sales of neonicotinoids, or neonics, were US$3.01 billion last year, accounting for almost 18 per cent of the global insecticides market, according to consultancy Phillips McDougall. Insecticide sales fell sharply year […] Read more


Packers put plants on plates

Meat packers can sense the shifting tide and are rebranding themselves as protein companies

Some major North American meat producers are clearing room on their plates for plant-based substitutes. They’re hedging their bets as consumer tastes shift and high-tech startups seek to create meat alternatives that taste like the real thing. The trend was highlighted on Monday when Tyson Foods, the biggest U.S. chicken processor, took a five per […] Read more



Wet North America harvest adds pressure for farmers

Cropland is soaking wet as harvest time winds down

Manitoba farmers aren’t alone when it comes to grappling with a rainy harvest. North America’s wettest harvest in about five years is hiking farmers’ costs as they dry crops to avoid spoilage and forcing them to take price discounts that are pinching incomes already under stress. One-fifth of the United States and Canadian Crop Belts […] Read more


Election 2015: Conservatives vulnerable in western heartland

New electoral districts combined with an NDP breakthrough in Alberta have lessened their grip on the West

The Canadian Prairies, long a Conservative Party stronghold that has helped the party rule the country for nearly a decade, no longer looks to be an impenetrable fortress heading into an Oct. 19 election that could be decided by a few seats. New electoral district boundaries, a left-wing breakthrough in Alberta, and retirements of popular […] Read more