Latest articles


Tom Button

Editor’s Note: Even in the East, it’s good the West won

Five years after Ottawa put the last spike in the Canadian Wheat Board, farmers are showing they’re more than sharp enough to do their own marketing

Of course the optics might have been much different. If commodity prices had sunk far below the average cost of production, the West’s cartoonists would have had a field day calling for Ottawa to throw a life ring to farmers who had lost their pool. Even so, as Country Guide field editor Lisa Guenther reports […] Read more


Tom Button

Editor’s Note: Get in with the right questions

If you want to know who is going to be farming five years from now, then taking a look at who is in the aisles at Ag in Motion and at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show is a good place to start

Business schools teach a useful rule. Whether you’re CEO of Ford or if you run a Mom and Pop restaurant, they say, you should spend 80 per cent of your time working on the nuts and bolts of how you make the right quality product at the right price. That seems about right for the […] Read more



Tractor spraying wheat field

‘Insurance’ spraying

A new study says most farmers can generate more profit by cutting back on crop protection. But wait… is it really that simple?

Today, we all recognize “recreational tillage” as a phrase we use to criticize farmers who haven’t been paying attention to how we’ve learned that we can put an end to a lot of excessive tillage, thereby reducing soil erosion, fuel and equipment costs, and manpower requirements. But now we need to ask: Is “recreational spraying” […] Read more


Tom Button

Editor’s Note: They aren’t even close to knowing

Yes, there are lots of fascinating and even important numbers in the 2016 ag census, but it’s the professionalization of farming that is really driving its evolution

Let me start with a complaint, just because the scene I’m going to describe is so fresh in my mind and it was so galling. I was in a meeting and the people I was meeting weren’t neophytes. They know something about agriculture, or at least they say they do. In fact, they’re already making […] Read more



The next big disruption in agriculture

Sometimes a shock to the system can be a very good thing

In the business world, there’s a term to describe an event that completely changes an existing industry or market. It’s called a disruptor, and it changes how we think, work, and do business. It can be argued that agriculture has gone through three major disruptions in the last century: the mechanization of farming; the arrival […] Read more


Tom Button

Editor’s Note: Why we believe in summer business

On your neighbours’ farms, 2017 is emerging as the most important year of the decade for making — or not making — key farm decisions

Farmers make decisions every day, of course, but with time it often seems that every year has its one big decision that really influences the next five years for that farm, and sometimes much more. If that’s true, what will shake out as your biggest decision this year? Or maybe you will look back and […] Read more



Let’s get real on solar energy

Despite the skeptics, these two farms prove that solar energy is likely to be the foundation of our commercial farms for generations to come

In the last issue of Country Guide I made a case for solar power. I tried to show that economics of solar power are improving and that it is becoming a viable source of electricity. More importantly, I pointed out that society is demanding a switch away from fossil fuels, and that countries around the world […] Read more


Tom Button

Editor’s Note: Reading about you at the airport

Masses of business books get sold at airports, complete with cover photos of business execs, Harvard profs, and HR consultants, but never a farmer. Maybe that should change

I’ve mentioned once or twice in past that I’ve toyed with the idea of Country Guide publishing a series of business books based on the strategic insights we glean from the farmers in our stories. And just to be clear… I don’t mean books for farmers to read. I mean books that would be of […] Read more



So history repeats itself

Consider for a moment what Canadian agriculture would look like today if farmers had never made the switch from horse power to tractor power. It isn’t such an absurd idea if you understand why farmers here actually resisted mechanization when it first appeared roughly a century ago. An interesting read is the text of the […] Read more


Tom Button

Editor’s Note: Something changed exactly a decade ago

It was 10 years ago this month that a small group of us met in Winnipeg to start talking about how we would transform Country Guide into a business journal for farmers.

Or, more accurately, it was 10 years ago this month that we got serious about whether it might make sense to even try such a thing. The answer wasn’t at all obvious. When we got asked, “Will anyone read you?” (which, naturally, was the question that had to be asked) we couldn’t really say anything […] Read more




Upcoming events