Latest articles


Step two

After you survive the startup, it takes a whole different set of skills to keep a value-add business growing

When Country Guide first spoke to sisters Natasha and Elysia Vandenhurk six years ago, their lives were hectic. But in that way, it was a story familiar to anyone running a startup. The Vandenhurk sisters were in the midst of creating a direction for Three Farmers, a food company producing camelina oil products from crops […] Read more


Making sure you get paid

Recent changes to the marketing system have prompted the entrance of new players, so it’s worth a refresher on who guarantees payment for grain, and for how long

Grain producers protect the investment they’ve planted, fertilized, watched grow, harvested and taken the pains to safely store, but it’s the Canada Grain Act that’s supposed to ensure financial protection from buyers that go bust or act unscrupulously. Farmers have never had to worry about payment from the large elevator companies which have historically dominated […] Read more



Unrisky business

GARS goes private with a government program, and looks to win with farmers on both sides of the border

Whole-farm margin insurance has been available through Agristability since the Growing Forward programs were first launched. However, the program was plagued with complexity, its reputation fell, and five years ago it was trimmed significantly. Yet farm risk is on the way up with rising input costs, higher debt levels, and volaltile weather and prices. Now, […] Read more


Determining your true break even point

What market price do you need to break even? The answer depends not just on your costs, but your goals

Every winter, talk turns to production costs, with a focus on how to get your break-even price even lower. But what is your break-even? Most of us believe it’s a reasonably simple figure to calculate: just divide your yield by your expenses, including the cost of seed, fuel, fertilizer, herbicide and fungicide applications, a possible […] Read more



Watch those corn prices

Sometimes it seems prices are stuck in neutral. But keep your eyes open. Global demand is enormous, and shocks can emerge overnight

Corn is a brilliant crop to grow. Its productivity is amazing, with a planting season here in North America that starts in February in Texas and ends in June somewhere in Canada. With genetics that fight off all kinds of pests, it’s almost like there’s an explosion in the field as the crop heads into […] Read more


Using futures and options in uncertain times

AME Management: Every year has its unique events, but with this strategy, farmers can provide profit opportunities that an “ordinary” year simply wouldn’t make available

Already, 2017 has been a year of uncertainty due both to unpredictable weather and political patterns. (We won’t speculate on which is the less predictable!) Uncertainty breeds large amounts of price volatility. Many farmers argue that using futures and options is too hard and carries the risk of cash-flow drains. They prefer to use the […] Read more



Setting the right price for the grocery shelf

Canada’s grocery stores are eager for more producers to fill their shelves with great straight-from-the-farm products. To win, though, you’ve got to price them right

From the outside, it looks likes a huge opportunity just waiting for you to grab hold of it. And maybe it really is. We’ve all been there. You already have an idea of what it costs to grow your crops and raise your livestock, and one day when you’re pushing your cart down the aisle […] Read more


Canadian wine industry in southern Ontario.

To play in the big leagues

Investors with deep pockets are asking, “Why aren’t Canada’s ag entrepreneurs taking the world by storm?” Now they think they’ve figured out how to join in making it happen

From his desk in San Diego, former farm manager turned corporate investor Arama Kukutai has been pitched 822 times in the last year by farmers, ag scientists and entrepreneurs, all of them wanting to use his money to grow their brainwaves into the next Apples and Amazons of the world’s $3 trillion ag market. Almost […] Read more



After the CWB

Whether you farm in the West or East, looking at how Prairie farmers are managing their sales after five years on their own will make you a better marketer

Maybe you mourned its demise, or maybe you danced on its grave. Either way, five years after the federal government put the Canadian Wheat Board’s single desk six feet under, it’s clear there will be no resurrection. How have farmers adapted to marketing wheat without the single desk? Where are they excelling, and where not? […] Read more


Selling farm-direct to consumers

Small, direct-market farmers are building better business cases for their farms. But will business smarts be enough?

Allison Fenske pulls a reluctant grey cat off her dining room table to make room for her jars of homemade pea-shoot pesto, pickled beets and spicy slices of jicama turnip. She points to the turnips. “Jonathan says he always tells people you can eat them the way you’d eat an apple, and I was like, […] Read more