Thursday, May 22, 2008

3,224 Fewer Tragedies

3,224 fewer children had their lives prematurely snuffed out at Canadian hospitals and abortion clinics in 2005 according to Statistics Canada. With a total of 96,815 abortions in 2005, the annual rate has dropped below the 100,000 threshold. Perhaps the most encouraging news comes from the age breakdown:
Teenage women, under the age of 20, experienced the largest decline in rates, from 13.8 for every 1,000 women in 2004, to 13.0 in 2005. The induced abortion rate for these women has declined gradually since 1996 when it peaked at 18.9.
Clearly there's a shift happening in the attitudes of young women, who seem significantly more responsible than a decade ago despite continuous pressure from society to sacrifice their morals.

There's a lot of work to be done, but anyone who cares about the unborn in Canada should pause and give thanks for this good news.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hamilton Diocese Ordinations

Hamilton Diocese ordained 3 new men into the priesthood on Saturday! It's an answer to prayer, and a hopeful sign for the diocese that these young men have committed their lives to the service of Christ and His church. One of the young men Fr. Jason Kuntz, went to high school with my wife, another spoke recently at our church about his calling and his journey through the seminary. I wanted to attend, but in a typical Patrick move, I went to Church of Our Lady in Guelph, when the ordinations were at the Cathedral in Hamilton. :(

"No problem," said I (to quote myself). I would simply go inside and pray for the new priests briefly in the church. However, my plan was foiled, as I tried each door only to find that it was locked up tight with two other people trying various doors.

Now, Church of Our Lady is something of a landmark in Guelph a large stone church towering over the downtown. Like many grand historical structures, it takes money to maintain, and the Parish has often looked to the general public for support. There's nothing wrong with that, Guelph is a more beautiful city because of the church, but if the public is helping to support the church, it should be open to the public sometime outside of regular mass times.

I understand that vandalism is a problem, but a group of committed volunteers or a private security company could easily address this issue and make this beautiful house of worship more accessible.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

To Quote Myself

Trade news bulletins are understandably poorly written, but Patrick O'Neil wonders if this isn't a little excessive:

Commentary by Victor Aideyan, Risk Management

While inputs will remain high, livestock prices should also be favorable in 2009. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a gauge of livestock and crop intentions through its quarterly reports. Sometime those reports create angst and uncertainty among producers, as was the case with the March Hogs and Pigs report as well as the March planting intentions report. From a swine perspective, the biggest surprise was the prediction of larger than expected hog supplies through September 2008. “The initial reaction on the production side can only be described as shock and despair,” says Senior Risk Management Consultant Victor Aideyan. “The Hogs and Pigs report was a negative surprise, to say the least.”

While the market reacted with lower prices for the first few trading days following the report, they have since rebounded, says Aideyan. “ Risk Management believes that tightening hog supplies in the 2nd quarter compared to the last quarter will support hog prices between April and early June,” he adds. For pork producers, it will continue to be important to manage input costs, including corn, meal, and any protein sources. “The price risk management work you do during this period will determine your level of profitability, if any, during 2009,” points out Aideyan. “Barring any exceptional events, we expect the meat complex (hogs and cattle) to hit all time highs in 2009.”
. . .
“The implication for corn is that it seems destined for higher prices going into this summer, at least,” predicts Aideyan. “This is good news for cash crop producers as corn and soybeans will go higher, but bad news for livestock producers.”

“Given tight reserves, Risk Management believes that in the spring of 2009 the competition for acres between soybeans and corn will be even more pronounced than this year,” Aideyan notes. He adds cautiously, “But don’t forget, the crops are not planted yet, and things could easily change.”

I count 9 third party references to himself or his organization. That's gotta be nearly as bad as naming your blog after yourself.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

What Goes Up . . .

Monthly Corn Futures

Grain prices are at or near record levels, ethanol production has sky rocketed, and riots are happening around the world as food prices increase. Have you heard this story yet? It's been hard to miss as story after story covers the 'Food vs. Fuel' debate or the 'Food Crisis.'

Conventional wisdom in the mainstream media is that grain prices will stay high forever, and food prices will continue to increase. History suggests otherwise, as the chart above shows, big spikes in grain prices are not uncommon; they are usually followed by a sharp, unexpected drop. Most agricultural commodities follow a cyclical or Boom-Bust pattern. Although government support for ethanol and bio diesel certainly, helped the economics of over supply and low prices are the biggest drivers behind the higher levels of demand.

Clearly, growing grain will be very profitable this fall, especially for farmers that forward sell some of their production at these high levels. These profits will generate a supply response. Farmers around the world will grow more food, and my expectation is the response will be much quicker than many analysts predict.

North American crop yields top the world largely because of technology, but there's excellent ground around the planet. I fully expect that the production will jump by leaps and bounds, possibly this year as Western management style pushes into places like Eastern Europe. Case and point is a large Canadian livestock producer I know who is leaving the business to manage a 7,000 acre grain farm in the Ukraine. Have no fear, farmers will continue to feed the world.

All this said, the 'crisis' has brought a number of good ideas to the forefront. Governments in North America should be clear that they will not offer subsidies to new ethanol plants, governments should continue to open their borders, and in the short term food aid should be increased, as Canada has already done.