This Week's Market Developments 
  • Organic hemp prices have stabilized following last year’s steep drop in prices. Chinese imports don’t work into the North American market at current values.
  • Yellow pea demand continues to grow due to the expanding fractionation industry, both locally and abroad. Organic pea prices, and the premium over conventional, are forecast to remain firm to encourage an increase in production in the years ahead.
  • We are actively seeking ‘transition organic’ yellow peas for an exporter, i.e. produced in the first two years prior to certification. Please call Brenda Caners if you have some for sale @ (204) 396-1933.
  • The pet food industry continues to explore and expand into new healthy crop ingredients. Pulses, non-GMO feedgrains, specialty crop vegoils and CBD-based ingredients are all seeing new demand from higher-end pet food brands in the North American market.

Pesticide Residues Block Access for Canadian Organic Exports to Europe 

Canada’s reputation for supplying high-quality food crop ingredients to markets around the world is falling fast and hard from its historic perch amongst grain-exporting nations. The economic cost is greatest in the organic sector, where shippers bear a significant risk of rejection moving product into Europe, due to the difficulty in supplying organic grain that meets that market’s low tolerance for glyphosate residue.

The question of how glyphosate residue can end up in certified organic foods was raised in a recent episode of Dr. Oz. Stuart MacMillan, one of western Canada’s leading experts in the production and certification of organic crops, was interviewed on the show, and explained simply that the buffer zones aren’t adequate to protect organic fields from contamination by the spraying applications of their neighbours. This is particularly true when conventional farmers apply chemicals in higher winds, which happens more frequently nowadays as their expanding acreage base places increasing pressure to move quickly through field operations.

Not all markets test organic grain crops for pesticide residues and the certification protocol does not require it. Yet those who purchase foods labeled as organic surely believe that they are absent, or at least lower, than the regular, non-branded alternatives.

We believe that when modern food consumers pay a premium for organic food items, they expect to be sending a positive signal back through the value chain to producers who keep their food crops clean. The organic food brand is vulnerable to consumers realizing that the products may contain pesticide residues. Yet, there is little the organic sector can do to change the behaviour of conventional farms and protect the integrity of their brand.

Western Canadian organic farmers and exporters have come to understand that the risk of a container being rejected upon arrival in Europe has grown to over 50%. The economic cost of this is two-fold: first in the devaluation of those shipments by half to two-thirds; and secondly in suddenly having to divert ‘conventional’ grain into the local market overseas.

When given the option, European organic food buyers and traders choose other origins over Canada, in some cases due to price, and always on the expectation that it’s cleaner. Supplies of organic food grains from eastern Europe and other competing origins enjoy a brand advantage over Canada today, that will not be easy to reverse.

Sustainable Grain Welcomes Brenda Caners 

Please join us in welcoming Brenda Caners as Sustainable Grain’s Sales and Origination Manager. Brenda’s 20+ years in the trade involved working her way up through the country elevator system at United Grain Growers, growing Cargill’s grain marketing advisory business, and trading for several Winnipeg companies.

She has a ton of passion for organics, very strong commercial sensibilities, a great sense of humour, and a strong reputation in the farm and food trade for being organized, respectful, transparent and fair. You can send her a note to say hi at, and find her phone number in the Market Development section of this report above.

After two weeks on the job, Brenda C. is still ‘drinking from a firehose’ as she works her way through the company’s list of farm and food company customers. Her focus initially will be on matching up buyers and sellers of certified organic food crops, helping them come together on price and supporting in the execution of each contract.

Together with the rest of our team, Brenda C. will also be supporting the launch of new value chains that Sustainable Grain is finding in transition organic, spray-free, regenerative and others.

Intercropping Interest Explodes

Across the Canadian Prairies over the past couple of years, farmers have started embracing intercropping in large numbers. In a few cases, workshops providing information and education about intercropping have filled event rooms to capacity forcing organizers to turn some farms away. That’s a great problem to have!

In the transition phase, farms moving towards organic field crop production report that intercropping is one of the best tools for managing weed and disease pressure in the absence of chemical control products. This is thought to be due to higher plant density and diverse natural phytochemical interactions between the different species, above and below the surface of the ground, providing a natural resiliency to invasive weed species and disease spores from taking hold.

Conventional growers report significant crop input savings on an intercropped versus a monocultured field. On the other hand, there are additional cleaning costs required to separate the seeds after harvest, which can range from $10-30 per metric tonne, depending on how clean each crop needs to be for its buyer. On the whole, even with lower yields, the revenue from taking 2-3 crops off of a field compared to just one, seems to be presenting farmers with a more profitable cropping option.

About Us 

Thank you for connecting with Sustainable Grain. Our goal is to provide comprehensive and trustworthy resources supporting regenerative and organic farming in western Canada.

As momentum builds behind soil health and safer foods, we are working to help the agriculture industry create new value chains around regenerative and organic farming practices. We are experts in food, finance, economics, grain marketing, trade execution and innovation.

We're happy to help.

Have further questions? Drop us a line by emailing our founder, Brenda Tjaden at or visit our website at

Copyright © 2018. Sustainable Grain Inc. All rights reserved.

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Sustainable Grain · Box 4 Group 3 · Dugald, Mb R0E0K0 · Canada

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