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Editor’s Column: Keeping current, staying relevant

We ran one of Andrew Allentuck’s Farm Financial Planner columns in the January 8 issue of Grainews. The story included a note about Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs). I’m sure you know that the Canadian government allows every Canadian to deposit cash or stocks into a TFSA every year, then allows that account to grow, tax free. Andrew’s column noted that the maximum amount that could be deposited in a year was $5,500. An eagle-eyed reader emailed to let us know that, actually, starting in 2019, Canadians can deposit $6,000 per year into their TFSA.

Thank you for sending that email, you are absolutely right! You might be wondering how this happened. Andrew Allentuck knows his stuff, and is, in fact, the author of a new book about investing called Cherished Fortune: Make Your Wealth your Business. Surely, you’re thinking, he knows the annual TFSA limit?

Of course he does. The problem is our long lag time between article submission and the date this magazine reaches your mailbox. Between the time when Andrew emailed me the final version of his column and January 8, the federal government increased the TFSA limit by $500/year. I should have noticed that, but I was too busy spending money (it was Christmas) to think about saving it.

This lag is an ongoing challenge at Grainews, or any print magazine. The news moves fast these days. One minute, lentils are the most valuable crop on your farm. Then suddenly India stops buying them and they sit in your bin for months, unsold. In times when most Grainews readers have a smartphone in their pocket that chimes every time there’s a breaking news event, a print magazine can’t possibly be the most up-to-date option. (This is exactly why we stopped running a month-long weather forecast in every issue of Grainews.)

Because we can’t possibly be the first source of breaking news, instead we aim to provide a more in-depth look at stories, and to provide information that is still relevant within at least a few weeks of writing, and hopefully months or sometimes even years later.

Here’s an example. On Page 5 of our Feb. 12 issue, you’ll find a story about a pea-processing plant in Manitoba. If you live near this pea plant, you likely noticed that construction was stalled last summer. There was no point in us just telling you that. So instead, we asked freelancer Melanie Epp to find out why plant construction was stalled, what’s happening now, and how the plant will ultimately impact demand for peas across the Prairies.

And here’s an example of what’s not in Grainews. When a chemical company releases a new product, it usually emails out a press release. That’s an interesting story, but by the time you read the next issue of Grainews, odds are you’ll have already seen an ad for the new product, or read about it in a weekly or daily news email. Rather than just tell you about the new product, I’d prefer to include it in a larger story about weed control or desiccation — we try to put the new product in a context that’s useful for you.

Although Andrew’s column was not exactly wrong, we’re still going to honour our promise to renew readers’ Grainews subscription for a year if they are first to alert us about a captioning or other important error in the magazine. This reader said he’d rather we didn’t print his name, but rest assured, we’ll be keeping him on the case for (at least) another 18 issues by renewing his subscription.

That time of year

This is the time of year that Grainews staff ramp things up. We publish 18 issues a year, but six of these come out in February and March. (I’m sure you’ve noticed your post office box filling a little faster than usual.)

When a magazine that’s normally published 18 times per year switches to weekly publication for three weeks in a row, Mackenzie Burling, our layout and design wizard in Winnipeg, barely has time to refill her coffee mug. We also have great staff working long hours this time of year to sell ads, manage subscriptions, post our articles on the internet and make sure the printed copies turn up at your farm. I’m grateful for them, and I hope you are too.

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