Media reports earlier this week noted Manitoba farmers and the province's economy are in for a banner year, as record harvests have combined with record commodity prices to produce record returns for the province's farmers.
"The buzz in the agriculture industry is the remarkable confluence of good yields and excellent prices," says Keystone Agricultural Producers president Doug Chorney. "It is a good thing for the farmer to be successful because everyone benefits in the economy across the board."
At least one report spoke of the excitement felt by the province's agricultural implement dealers, who anticipate a good portion of those profits will be spent by farmers who repair or upgrade their farm equipment. "From what we're predicting, we're going to see an increase of work over the course of the winter for the equipment that's out in the field right now," Kevin Read, parts manager for Enns Brothers in Oak Bluff, said.
All of the positivity can be infectious, but we may be getting ahead of ourselves. That's because, media reports notwithstanding, not everybody is a winner in this story -- and that is especially the case in Western Manitoba.
While producers in southeastern and south-central Manitoba are reaping huge per-acre production, a number of Westman producers are actually seeing lower yields than they expected due to harsh heat and low precipitation in late June and throughout July.
Large tracts of farmland are still out of production due to the damage caused by last year's flooding. Tens of thousands of acres of seeded fields in the Assiniboine River valley were flooded earlier this summer, wiping out crops.
For livestock producers, the story is even more grim.
Feed costs have increased by almost 50 per cent, threatening the viability of hog and cattle operations.
Karl Kynoch, chairman of Manitoba Pork, said Manitoba hog producers are looking at approximately $130 million in losses over the next six months.
Hog production in Manitoba has decreased to around eight million head this year from more than nine million a few years ago.
That's a concern to Brandon, home of Maple Leaf Pork's processing plant, and Neepawa, which is home to the HyLife plant. Those two facilities, which employ hundreds of workers, require a reliable supply of thousands of hogs each day. A sharp increase in the price of hogs and/or a reduction in hog supply would threaten the viability of those plants and the security of those jobs.
While all of that is a concern, the greatest worry is the impact high commodity prices are having on the cost of food in Westman.
The increases have hit families, seniors, students and the poor the hardest. My own family has noticed the prices of basic staples have increased by more than 25 per cent in the past two years.
"The increase in food costs is a problem, big time," says Vandana Jamadagna, co-ordinator of Brandon's Helping Hands soup kitchen.
"People can't afford food, so they're coming to us."
She told me the number of people who rely upon Helping Hands has almost doubled in the past year, but donations are actually down.
The problem isn't serious -- yet -- at the Brandon University Students Union food bank, but BUSU President Carissa Taylor knows things could change once classes start next month.
"Increased food costs are going to impact students, and that could mean additional students will be using our service," she told me. "We're OK right now, but we're going to need a good food drive in October so that we're ready to respond."
The news is good for many Manitoba farmers who can capitalize on higher yields and increased commodity prices, and good for other parts of Manitoba's economy.
For every winner in this story, however, there are losers, too.
As the world struggles with widespread food shortages and a growing population, this is a situation Manitobans could see with growing frequency.
Deveryn Ross is a political commentator living in Brandon.