Agriculture can help revitalize Canada’s post-COVID economy, but the federal government should clear the track for it.
That means updating regulations to encourage technological innovation, improving market access for agricultural exports and recognizing farm practices that help the environment, Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) says.
The organization, which represents 15 regional, provincial and national grain farmer groups, took that message to Ottawa last week during its post-harvest lobby effort, GGC executive director Erin Gowriluk said in an interview Tuesday.
“Our theme is ‘Growing Back Better’ and we’re building on the government plan to build back better,” she said. “That’s really about what Canadian farmers need to position the sector as one that is really going to contribute to the post-pandemic economic recovery.”
Why it matters: The federal government has identified increased agriculture and food exports as way to boost Canada’s economy, but the Grain Growers of Canada say the federal government can help agriculture to do more.
Canadian farmers rely heavily on exports, but there are no exports without access to international markets. The Canadian government has focused on negotiating and ratifying new trade agreements.
“We are actually calling on the government for a policy pivot with respect to international trade,” Gowriluk said.
“Let’s implement and enforce those trade deals. And then let’s look very closely at the market access challenges we’re having in India and China where we don’t have free trade agreements, but we do need more government support.”
In March 2019 China all-but-ceased importing canola seed from Canada, claiming it was contaminated with weed seeds and plant diseases. But it was widely believed to be in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese tech giant Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver in December 2018 at the U.S. government’s behest.
Canadian canola oil and soybean exports to China fell too. Although canola seed and oil exports to China have increased since, they haven’t fully recovered.
Tariffs have also disrupted Canadian pulse exports to India.
“Certainly China banning exports of canola has hurt us,” Saskatchewan farmer Paul Thoroughgood said in the GGC video, entitled Today’s Modern Grain Farm: A Harvest Across Canada.
“It probably knocked 50 cents to a dollar off the price, which immediately hits your bottom line. It also hurt our ability to deliver and be able to make cash flow…”
The video debuted Monday as the GGC launched its lobby effort with around 100 MPs and senators taking part online, Gowriluk said.
Saskatchewan farmer Cherilyn Jolly-Nagel says in the video that China’s trade action “keeps me up at night, that’s how concerned I am about it.”
Canada needs to diversify its markets, she added.
For the full story, see the Nov. 26 edition of the Manitoba Co-operator.
— Allan Dawson is a reporter for the Manitoba Co-operator at Miami, Man.
Kiev/Moscow | Reuters -- Ukraine is set to produce more wheat for animal feed and less higher grade bread-making grain this year, as rain damage has shifted the global exporter's quality balance, traders and analysts said.
The altered backdrop is seen heaping further pressure on global prices, while also signalling tougher competition with other European countries producing more feed wheat.
New-crop wheat futures in Paris hit a four-year low last week as traders priced in the prospect of a glut of cheaper animal-feed wheat from this summer's harvest after several European countries saw repeated rain.
Rain is now having a direct impact on Ukraine, which competes with Russia and France, the European Union's largest wheat exporter, to supply North Africa and the Middle East, analysts said.
"We expect the share of feed wheat to rise to around 35 per cent (of the total wheat harvest) this year from 25-30 per cent last year," said Mykola Vernytsky, head of Ukraine's ProAgro consultancy. "This will increase the competition on the feed wheat market."
More supplies of cheap wheat of low quality could dent foreign currency earnings to the country, already hit by conflict with pro-Russian rebels.
Ukraine late last month said it could lose 500,000-550,000 tonnes of grain, out of a projected 60 million-tonne harvest, because of fighting in the country's east.
The country's major exports are grains, metals and chemicals. In 2013 total exports were worth US$63.3 billion, of which $6.4 billion came in from grains supplies.
However, lower supplies of expensive milling wheat from Ukraine are also likely to ease competition with Russia, where the quality of wheat is high this year.
So far, 77.5 per cent of Russian wheat has been of milling quality and 22.5 per cent of feed quality, Russia's Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service (VPSS) said.
Ukraine, targeting a large wheat harvest for the second year in a row, had cropped around 90 per cent of the sown area as of Aug. 1, with the harvest at 19.4 million tonnes.
Farmers have faced financial difficulties arising from turmoil within the country, which led to the ousting earlier this year of president Viktor Yanukovich.
Some producers used lower quality plant protection products and other chemicals, according to Vernytsky at ProAgro, while traders and analysts noted a greater development of pests this year than last that degraded grain quality.
Lower overall wheat quality could make exports of Ukrainian wheat to Egypt, the world's largest wheat importer, more complicated, traders said. Egypt became the biggest consumer of Ukrainian wheat last season with the import of 2.6 million tonnes.
"It is still unclear whether Ukrainian milling wheat will meet the requirements of Egypt," Vernytsky at ProAgro said.
Traders said that Egypt was likely to stay among top export destinations this season but the major share of supply could go to private buyers instead of state General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC).
Ukraine, which harvested around 21 million tonnes of wheat in 2013, exported a total of nine million tonnes in 2013-14 and 85 per cent of exported grain was milling quality, according to the Agriculture Ministry data.
-- Pavel Polityuk and Polina Devitt report for Reuters from Kiev and Moscow respectively. Additional reporting for Reuters by Sarah McFarlane in London and Natalia Zinets in Kiev.