By Jonathan Martin
A Friday meeting between canola producers’ groups and the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food revealed that the wait for financial assistance could go on for months.
Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s ag minister, announced May 1 that the Advanced Payment Plan (APP) would raise canola farmers’ loan limits from $400,000 to $1 million and up the interest-free portion of the loans from $100,000 to $500,000. The increases were designed to offset some of the pressure Canadian growers felt because of the Canada-China trade dispute.
Jan Dyer, who handles government relations for the Canadian Canola Growers Association, spoke with Bibeau during the conference call Friday. At that time, Bibeau told the callers that the APP expansion may not be available for “a few weeks or a couple of months.”
“We have been asking for details and an update,” Dyer told Farms.com. “The announcement was made the first of May and we still don’t have the regulations needed to be put in play. The uncertainty is what people are concerned about.
“I took a call from a farmer this morning,” she added. “He told me it’s hard to make decisions when no one knows what’s happening.”
A post-dated May 29 letter to Bibeau penned by Luc Berthold, shadow minister for agriculture and agri-food, said his office is also receiving complaints from canola farmers who have yet to see the money.
“For a canola producer, under the current circumstances, three weeks is like an eternity,” he wrote. “Minister, it is irresponsible for you to make an announcement and not be able to follow through in a timely manner.”
The window for spring canola seeding is closing and it looks like canola farmers will have to go through it without government assistance, Dyer told Farms.com.
Bibeau’s office told Farms.com that the government is unable to provide a timeline for the updates to APP, but that the feds are still “committed to supporting Canadian farmers through this challenge.”
“We are working with our delivery partners and will have more to say soon,” Bibeau’s office told Farms.com in an email. “We are working tirelessly to address the canola issue with China and support our farmers on multiple fronts, including through the Government of Canada Working Group on Canola, which meets once a week, and brings together the industry and the Prairie provinces to develop strategies to resolve the market access challenge, diversify markets, and support the sector.”