“The tests that are done as they leave the facility are all good (but) we have no control over a lot of the shipment side of it.”
– AGRICULTURE MINISTER GERRY RITZ
Canada wants the U. S. to stop imposing restrictions against Canadian canola-crushing plants when their meal shipments pick up salmonella bacteria en route to the U. S., Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said Jan. 6.
The U. S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) actions have resulted in a sharp drop in canola-crushing volumes in Canada and pressured canola futures prices. The U. S. is by far Canada’s biggest export market for canola meal, which is a protein source for livestock feed.
The FDA has restrictions in place against plants owned by Bunge Ltd., Archer Daniels Midland and Viterra, but Canadian canola meal is generally salmonella free when it leaves the plants, Ritz said in an interview with Reuters about the year ahead.
“The tests that are done as they leave the facility are all good (but) we have no control over a lot of the shipment side of it,” Ritz said from North Battleford, Sask.
Canada is making its case to the FDA through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, he said.
Concerns about salmonella are linked to an outbreak of the illness in the U. S. last year, when people ate foods contaminated with the harmful bacteria.
The canola industry has long argued that ingredients for livestock feed should not face the same scrutiny as human food.
“This (canola meal) product is going down (to the U. S.) for non-foodstuff usage,” Ritz said. “It is recooked again, which of course destroys the salmonella.”
The canola industry also has been under pressure since Nov. 15 from Chinese trade restrictions against canola seed with blackleg disease. But Ritz said Canada is far from making a challenge
through the World Trade Organization against China. He hopes to press his case with Chinese officials during a possible spring visit.
China, Canada’s top canola seed export market during the last crop year, has said it is restricting Canadian canola to lesser-used ports because it is concerned about infection of its domestic rapeseed. Ritz said he believes China wants to reduce its canola stockpile.
“They (will) need the product, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “We’re just hopeful that we can start moving product in there sooner, rather than later.”
Canada is the world’s biggest exporter of canola, which is mainly crushed for its oil for use in cooking oil and biofuel.
A dramat ic downsizing is underway of Canada’s hog and cattle herds as the industries see smaller exports to the U. S. due to its country-of-origin food labelling (COOL) law and suffer from weak prices and a volatile Canadian dollar.
Ritz said he expected prospects
for livestock farming to improve over the next year, citing strong pork demand and economic recovery as reasons for optimism, but he cautioned that interest rates and currency moves will also influence prospects.
The WTO has set up a dispute settlement panel to hear a complaint from Canada and Mexico against the U. S. labelling law, with its report expected by autumn.
“We’re quite hopeful that we have a very strong case,” Ritz said.