Oats is an interesting commodity that has seen a number of market changes in recent years. According to a recent report from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canada is the world’s third largest oat producer and the world’s number one oat exporter. About 95 per cent of our oat exports are to the U.S. market. Starting in 1995, the European Union provided Finland and Sweden with oat export subsidies. When those export subsidies ended in 2006, Finnish and Swedish oat exports to the U.S. were curtailed and Canada captured that business. Within Canada, oat production has become concentrated in the Prairie region, particularly Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The two provinces have market access and transportation advantages to the main U.S. market of Minneapolis. Oats continue to have a prominent place in the milling market for human food uses, but many U.S. horse markets have replaced oats with pelleted corn rations. The Ag Canada analysis says oats will have a difficult time recapturing the horse market. The medium term forecast calls for a continued decline in North American oat acres as producers gravitate to more profitable cropping options. I’m Kevin Hursh.

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