This past week I went above the 49th parallel to Manitoba, Canada. Later in the week I was in Madison, Wisconsin and Valley City, North Dakota. In total I spoke to over 2000 producers and industry leaders.

Windshield Analysis

North of the border in Canada the grain industry is suffering more than the U.S. counterparts because of no government payments. Recently the Canadian government has approved a $500 million supplement to producers.

The supply-managed industries in Canada are doing quite well. These include egg and dairy. The hog production still appears to be expanding rapidly in Manitoba.

South of the border the Wisconsin dairies are still expanding and are receiving higher milk prices in the short run. In Valley City the winter show found the beef producers ("cow-calf ") doing very well. Soybean production still appears to be expanding in this area of the country.

The NISA program in Canada or rainy day fund initiated in 1991 is under review. 80 percent of the producers are using it as intended but 20 percent are using it as a retirement fund which is being scrutinized by the Canadian tax payer.

Best Idea

I was at a large hog producer’s place that was comprised of two families and an outside the family management staff. Entering the lobby on the way to the boardroom I found a digital picture of all the employees on a display. It was created by the employees and really spoke of their worker motivation.

Tip of the Week

At this same hog operation when management makes major decisions it has to pass the three-sniff test! 1) Does it maintain or improve quality of product? 2) What is its impact on the employee and team chemistry? 3) Is it profitable and does it keep them cost competitive?

Interesting Experience

Our plane passed within 50 yards of Airforce 1 while on the runway in Fargo, North Dakota. I don’t care what your political affiliation is. It still gives you a chill to see the plane and all the security.

Dave’s Sport Pick

The college basketball tournament is too close to call and I am writing this before the brackets are final. Two of the final eight will be Duke and Boston College. Next week we will get serious.

Final Note

Don’t forget to send me questions or issues you want me to address!!!

You can e-mail Dave at sullylab@vt.edu