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Canary seed becomes official grain Aug. 1

Canary seed becomes official grain Aug. 1

The designation means the crop receives the same protections as wheat, canola and other grains

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A new crop will be designated as an official grain under the Canada Grain Act in the coming months.

The Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) announced canary seed will join its counterparts like barley, lentils and wheat as an official grain on Aug. 1.

This decision comes after grain company ILTA Grain filed for creditor protection in July 2019. The situation left canary seed producers unpaid for $2.1 million of grain deliveries.

At the time, canary seed was not an official grain and therefore producers didn’t quality for payment protections.

Designating the crop as an official grain means producers are ensured payment.

“After successive licensee failures where canary seed growers were left empty handed, it was clear we needed to extend regulatory safeguards to the sector,” Doug Chorney, chief commissioner of the CGC, said in a statement. We’re very pleased to be able to offer canary seed growers the rights and services provided by the Canada Grain Act and help ensure they are fairly compensated for their deliveries.”

Saskatchewan is a major canary seed producer.

The province accounts for more than 95 per cent of Canada’s total canary seed production and is the world’s leading producer and exporter of the crop.

Growers began working towards having the crop designated as an official grain after the ILTA Grain situation in 2019.

Canary seed growers are pleased with the CGC’s decision to protect their grain deliveries, said Darren Yungmann, chair of the Canary Seed Development Commission of Saskatchewan.

“We put forward a motion at our 2020 annual general meeting to solicit the CGC to include canary seed as an official grain,” he told “This is great news because now it means our crop is protected by the commission. You can’t have farmers losing $2 million.”

A majority of canary seed marketing opportunities is for bird feed.

But in January 2016 Health Canada approved the grain for human consumption.

This opens up new revenue streams for farmers, but multiple hurdles are in the way, Yungmann said.

“We’re working to bring down barriers like registering herbicides for human use,” he said. “We’re doing research trials on the stability of the flour and we’re trying to get the seed into grain companies’ hands to do more research.”

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