Recently I spent a good week in western Canada, in the provinces of Alberta and Manitoba. Canada has been hit with the Triple Threat this past year, that being SARS, the blackouts and the mad cow outbreak. I was expecting the mood to be much like the farm crisis of the 1980s, but the feeling of producers, lenders and agribusiness leaders was mostly upbeat.
The twist on the mad cow outbreak in the spring was that it occurred on a farm that was operated by a person from Mississippi. This person was a former catfish producer that decided to move to Canada because of the inexpensive land.
The producers experiencing some economic pain have benefited from a proactive attitude throughout society. For example, beef consumption by Canadians has increased dramatically as the public rallied behind beef producers and rediscovered meat.
Second, the bankers and lenders are taking each farm and ranch as an individual case. They are stressing open and frequent communication, not only with the lenders, but the family.
The government has given producers payments for cattle as a measure of good faith. They are working very diligently to get the Canadian/U.S. border open again.
There was much concern about the devaluation of the U.S. dollar since this hurts Canadian exports in agriculture and manufacturing. However, the people headed to Las Vegas like it because their consumer dollars were going further!
This week I’ll be traveling from the National FFA Convention in Louisville, to San Antonio, and then back up to Canada for a couple days.
It’s a good thing southern California is not on my itinerary this week. Wind and drought is a terrible combination when there’s a spark!
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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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