The Canola Council of Canada (CCC) asks the federal government to resolve the canola trade dispute with China
In a recent release, the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) is urging the Government of Canada to end the trade dispute with China over canola.
A year ago this month, Chinese officials decided to block two of the larger companies – Viterra Inc. and Richardson International Ltd. – that export canola seed to them.
“We wanted to point out that this is very difficult for our industry and for canola farmers,” said Jim Everson, president of CCC. China “is a very significant market, so we want to remind the government that it's one year now and we still don't have this issue resolved. We’re requesting (officials) double their efforts and keep working at it.”
At the time of the blockage, China accounted for approximately 40 per cent of all Canadian canola seed, oil and meal exports.
Having such a significant market disrupted has created huge losses in revenue. Canola seed exports were down approximately 70 per cent in 2019, CCC said in the release. This situation has resulted in $1 billion in lost revenue from canola.
While this issue affects the canola market, it’s not really about canola.
“It's a complex issue. It's not about canola – it's about political difficulties and relationships between the Government of Canada and the Government of China,” said Everson.
While the government has made some efforts to resolve this dispute, it needs to improve, Everson told Farms.com.
“Farmers are about to go into the fields for spring seeding in a couple of months and, when they do, this issue about whether or not we're going to be able to increase our sales to China will be very much on their minds,” he said.
Everson acknowledged efforts such as having an ambassador in China will help relationships over time, but these initiatives won’t change the current state.
“There has been some technical level discussions between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and China authorities. Any discussion on that level is a good thing but it hasn't lead to any solutions so far. There's no real indication that those technical discussions are going to lead to a solution anytime soon,” said Everson. The coronavirus has complicated things and the government in China has rightly focused on that issue, he added.
Since this issue started last year, Canada has diversified who it exports to and has made some headway in several Asian markets. But this needs to continue and improve, said Everson.
“We haven't seen the kinds of results that we'd like to see and that includes greater market access support, especially in new markets in Asia,” he said.
The CCC would also like to see the development of the biofuel industry in Canada.
“Anywhere in the world where there is a vibrant biofuels industry it's a result of government regulation to provide incentive. There is some of that in Canada, but we think it could be stronger and it would help diversify our canola markets. It would give Canadian farmers a reliable market that is not so susceptible to the varieties of international trade,” Everson said.
Although there doesn’t appear to be any resolution to this issue in the short term, hope exists.
“Farmers are a very optimistic group. … I think there's a lot of optimism in the sense of going into a new crop year and the opportunity that a new year provides to have a good crop and hopefully solid prices. We'll just keep moving on,” said Everson.
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