Canada’s canary seed growers are asking Ottawa to intervene in a trade dispute which has shut them out of their largest export market.
Mexico has resumed an import ban on canary seed from Canada one year after first imposing it, despite an interim agreement between the two countries to restore normal trade.
The Canadian Special Crops Association says Mexico’s ban has no scientific basis and wants the federal government to step in.
“What we’re asking for is people to focus on something that’s risk-and science-based. That’s the way all commodities should be addressed,” said Courtney Hirota, a CSCA spokesperson.
Mexico slapped an embargo on Canadian canary seed in June 2010, citing unacceptable levels of weed seeds in shipments and imposing a zero-tolerance standard.
Hirota said the two countries later reached a six-month transition agreement in which Mexico would continue to accept shipments while the Canadian industry worked on lowering weed seed content.
The industry expected normal trade to resume after the agreement expired June 21. Instead, Mexico once again slammed the door on all canary seed shipments, Hirota said.
She said Canada feels unfairly targeted because Mexico does not require zero tolerance for weed seeds in shipments from other countries.” We’re not quite sure why we’re being singled out this way.”
Hirota said the industry had significantly lowered weed seed content in shipments and feels Mexico is exceeding phytosanitary standards allowed under international trade agreements.
Canada sold 36,000 tonnes of canary seed worth $20 million to Mexico in 2010. The Central American country receives 25 per cent of Canada’s canary seed exports.