Potatoes And Beer

My travels took me north of the border to speak to the Manitoba Potato Production Days Conference in Brandon, just outside of Winnipeg. The next stop was to speak at the 50th Annual Convention of the Hop Growers of America in Yakima, WA. What is interesting about these conventions is that you get to enjoy the respective products. Potato and beer breaks were very prevalent throughout the day and evening, which made for a cheerful, jovial audience at the hop convention, to say the least.

In case you don’t know, Canada has a new leader, Stephen Harper, who is an economist by trade and represents the Conservative Party. The liberal candidate, Paul Martin, was voted out; however, his party still maintains control. The implications to the U.S. and particularly agriculture are more liberal trade possibilities. However, do not be surprised to see another call for elections should any controversy come about.

Another perspective on this trip was that both the potato and hop industries are in a consolidation mode, driven by retailers, processors and technology. Some people in the industry were feeling frustration but others were seeing incremental innovation, which was creating some opportunities on both sides of the border.

Side Notes

  • Is the rise of gold prices the sign of turbulent economic times ahead? A twenty-five year high is starting to raise the eyebrows of some risk managers.
  • Thank goodness North America hasn’t had a cold winter like Russia. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for late winter and spring!

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

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, The Corn and Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups.

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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