Table of contents

    1. Seven Steps to Better Marketing
    2. Understanding supply factors for agricultural products
    3. How demand and supply determine market price
    4. How exchange rates affect agricultural markets
    5. How interest rates affect agricultural markets
    6. How to use charting to analyse commodity markets
    7. Agriculture marketing clubs
    8. Commodity futures markets
    1. Economics and Marketing – Choosing a Commodity Broker
    2. Margin on futures contracts
    3. Options on futures – an introduction
    4. Using hedging to protect farm product prices
    5. Canola futures contract
    1. Introduction to crop marketing
    2. Basis – How cash grain prices are established
    3. Grain marketing decision grid
    4. Price pooling – How it works
    5. Crop contracts
    6. Grain storage as a marketing strategy
    7. Using producer cars to ship prairie grain
    8. Using frequency charts for marketing decisions
    9. Western Canadian grain catchment
    10. Barley and wheat marketing resources
    11. Wheat basis levels
    12. Wheat quality and protein matters
    13. Wheat pricing considerations
    14. Marketing oats in Canada
    15. US Crops – Where Are They Grown?
    1. Introduction to livestock marketing
    2. Understanding and using basis levels in cattle markets
    3. Forward contracting of cattle
    4. Understanding dressing percentage of slaughter cattle
    5. Understanding the cattle market sliding scale
    6. Predicting feeder cattle prices
    7. Breakeven analysis for feeder cattle
    8. Farm gate values for farm-raised vs purchased calves
    9. Wool marketing in Canada
    10. Marketing feeder lambs
    1. Turf and forage seed trade companies active in the Peace Region
    2. History of creeping red fescue production in the Peace River Region
    3. Alfalfa seed marketing in Canada
    4. Forage seed marketing
    5. Marketing creeping red fescue
    6. Faba bean
    7. Marketing compressed hay
    1. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – A, B
    2. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – C
    3. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – D, E
    4. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – F, G
    5. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – H, I, J, K
    6. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – L, M
    7. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – N, O
    8. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – P, Q, R
    9. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – S
    10. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – T, U
    11. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – V, W
    12. Other Marketing Related Glossaries


ADS - Alberta Direct Sales – Sales of live cattle made direct to packers or packers' buyers. Prices quoted are for A-grade animals as reported to and tabulated and published by Canfax, Calgary.

Advance Payment Program - A cash payment or advance made to producers for farm-stored crops, as well as ranch-raised fur, honey, and maple syrup. The amount of the cash advance is based on a percentage of the expected farm gate price of the amount of crop in storage up to a federally-limited maximum advance. Interest on a portion of the advance is paid by the federal government. The advance can be held for a maximum of one year and it is repaid as the product is sold by the producer. The program is administered by a number of producer organizations, marketing co-operatives and private businesses. The maximum amount of the advance and the amount of interest-free portion are adjusted from time to time by the Canadian Government.

Alberta Farm Fuel Benefit (AFFB) - Farmers who meet eligibility criteria benefit from reduced costs of gasoline and diesel fuel. They are able to purchase gasoline and diesel exempt of the nine cents per litre provincial road tax and propane exempt of the six and one-half cents per litre road tax.

Alberta Pork (Alberta Pork Producers Development Corporation) - A marketing commission operating on behalf of Alberta pork producers. It collects a per-head service charge on all Alberta pig sales to be "used for the development, growth and promotion of the Alberta pork industry." See "marketing commission."

Arbitrage – A simultaneous purchase and sale of the same quantity of the same commodity (or futures for the same commodity) in two different markets, either in the same country or in different countries. Arbitraging is done to take advantage of and profit from what is believed to be a temporary difference in prices. The price difference is greater than the total cost of moving the commodity from one location to the other. For example, arbitraging feed barley might mean buying barley in northern Saskatchewan and selling it at, say, Lethbridge for more than the purchase price plus all costs of getting it to Lethbridge. Done on a large enough scale, arbitraging barley in this manner would tend to increase the cash price in northern Saskatchewan and lower the cash price at Lethbridge.

Ask – An offer to sell a specific amount of a commodity or number futures or options contracts at a specific price. See "offer."

At the Market - An order to buy or sell futures contracts or options as soon as possible at the best price obtainable at the time the order is received by the commodity broker.

At-the-Money – An option whose strike price is equal, or approximately equal, to the current price of its underlying futures contract.

Auction Market or Auction Mart – A facility for the sale of livestock by auction in an auction ring.


Backgrounding - Feeding of calves, usually but not always over winter, on a high-roughage, relatively low rate-of-gain ration.

Back Months - The futures or options months being traded that are furthest from expiry. Also called "deferred months."

Backwardation – A futures market situation for storable commodities where prices in deferred futures months are progressively lower than nearby months. Also known as an "invert or inverted market." See "Invert or Inverted Market."

Barrow – A castrated male hog.


  1. The difference between the quoted cash price of a particular commodity and the price of a specific futures contract for the same commodity.
  2. "Basis" in the grain trade is the difference between the cash price the farmer receives and the futures contract price for the commodity that the cash price is based on.
  3. "Basis" in the livestock trade is the difference between the cash price the farmer receives and the related futures contract price for that type of livestock, converted to Canadian dollars.

Basis Contract – A forward cash contract between a buyer and seller that specifies the basis, the amount and the delivery period for a commodity to be delivered at a future date. The final price is determined at a later date, when the seller locks in the futures price prior to or up to the day of delivery, depending on the details of the contract.

Bear - A person who believes prices will fall.

Bear Market - A market where the price is falling.

Bear Spread – A speculative futures trading strategy involving selling a nearby futures contract and buying a deferred futures contract at the same time. A bear spread can buy and sell the same commodity or two different, but related commodities. A bear spread is used to take advantage of an expected increase in the price difference between the two futures contracts. See "spreading."

Bid - An offer to buy a specific amount of a commodity or number of futures or options contracts at a specific price. Bid is the opposite of "offer."

Board Lot – A standardized number of futures contracts designated as a trading unit. At ICE Futures Canada, five 20-tonne contracts, equalling 100 tonnes of traded grain or oilseed is a "board lot."

Boxed Beef - Cryovac-packaged beef primals and subprimals packed for shipment in cardboard boxes. Boxed beef is currently the primary method of aging and shipping for the North American wholesale beef trade. Boxed beef shipped out of Alberta to Canada and the world is processed in HACCP-approved federally-inspected processors. Ground beef is usually shipped in 10-pound Cryovac tubes. See also "cryovac," "HACCP," and "primals."

Break - A fast, large price decline.

Breakeven (for crops) - The minimum sale price per pound, per bushel, or per tonne that covers all cash or operating costs and all fixed costs for an expected or actual yield.

Breakeven (fed cattle)

  1. The maximum feeder cattle purchase price that a cattle feeder can pay so that all cash or operating costs and all fixed costs will be covered for a specific slaughter cattle sale price.
  2. The slaughter cattle selling price needed to cover all cash or operating costs and all fixed costs for a specific feeder cattle purchase price.

Breakevens - Manual worksheets or computer-based programs designed to calculate breakeven prices for various livestock feeding alternatives.


  • In futures and options trading, an agent, more properly known as a futures commission merchant, who buys or sells futures or options contracts on behalf of and at the direction of a client. He or she is employed by a firm licensed to trade futures and options.
  • An agent, or cash grain broker, who puts buyers and sellers of cash grain together but does not actually take ownership of the cash grain. He or she collects a fee from either the buyer or seller or from both.

Brokerage Fee – The fee charged by a broker to carry out business transactions as directed by the customer. The fee may be a percentage of the transaction value or, in the case of futures and options trades, a fixed dollar amount.

Bull – A person who believes prices will rise.

Bull Market - A market where prices are rising.

Bull Spread – A speculative futures strategy which consists of buying a nearby futures contract and selling a more deferred futures contract of the same commodity. Bull spreading is carried out with the expectation that the price spread between the two contracts will decrease either by the nearby contract increasing in value, or the deferred contract decreasing in value, or a combination of both.

Butcher Cows/Bulls - Cows and bulls sold for slaughter.

Buy (or sell) on Close – An order to buy (or sell) futures or options at the end of the trading session at a price within the closing price range.

Buy (or sell) on Open – To buy (or sell) futures or options at the beginning of a trading session within the opening price range.

Buy hedge – A hedge of buying futures or buying call options to protect against a possible price increase of a cash commodity the hedger intends to buy. Also known as a "long hedge."

By-products - Animal slaughter products with saleable value but not including saleable meat products.

  • In beef cattle, the by-products are edible and inedible tallow, liver, tongue, blood, heart, tripe, kidney, tail, cheeks, lips, inedible lungs, meat and bone meal, blood meal, and hides.
  • In hogs, by-products include cheek meat, chitterlings, ears, tongues, inedible hearts, inedible kidneys, inedible livers, inedible melts, salivary glands, snouts, stomachs, brains, inedible lungs, "white" grease, meat and bone meal, blood meal, lard, and blood plasma.

By-product Value - A price representing the estimated return to packers from by-products for a given week. In Canada the beef by-product value is expressed in dollars per head per steer, based on a collection of market prices for the by-products listed above. No Canadian by-product value for hogs is published. The USDA publishes a hog by-product value expressed in dollars per hundredweight for a live slaughter hog.