This past week I was in Alberta and was greeted with a foot and a half of snow. The drought in Western Canada is not as bad as last year and many producers were ready to plant. I had the opportunity to meet with an agribusiness group of 400 people, conduct seven press interviews, and finish the day off meeting with a legislative group and the Minister of Agriculture.

The Canadians were concerned over trade issues with the United States and country of origin labeling. A recent study I was part of with the George Morris Centre in Guelph, Ontario, found that country of origin labeling, if enacted, would cost producers and rural communities in the upper Midwest up to $2 billion annually just in the hog industry!

Additional studies in other agricultural sectors have found similar results. We must be very careful of a protectionist attitude in the short run. The long term economic consequences will ripple through, affecting our producers and rural communities.

I would recommend that producers take a trip to Alberta to visit some of the producers. I find them very entrepreneurial and progressive. It appears the government, academic, agribusiness, and producer groups have a strategic vision to compete in 21st century agriculture.

SARS

I was the only one going through the United States customs in the Toronto Airport at 7:05 a.m., so I had my choice of about five customs agents. The SARS scare has really decreased the amount of people going to Canada.

The Canadian dollar is strengthened compared to the U.S. dollar right now, which is hindering Canadian producers in exporting agricultural products to the U.S.

This week I’ll be visiting California; Spokane, WA, and Portland, OR, then to Sedona, AZ, and the Grand Canyon!

My e-mail address is:sullylab@vt.edu

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, The Corn and Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist at Virginia Tech. He recently completed a sabbatical working with the Royal Bank of Canada. He is now back at Virginia Tech with his academic appointment, which is teaching, extension, and applied research.

To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures type Dave Kohl in the Search blank at the top of the page.

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