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CWB Confident Japan Sales Will Be OK

Japan will continue to be one of Canada’s best wheat and barley customers, although sales could be disrupted due to the devastation in the wake of that massive earthquake, says Ward Weisensel, the Canadian Wheat Board’s (CWB) chief operating officer.

“There are reports out there about Japan not going to consume as much wheat and corn,” he told farmers here attending a meeting with District 10 CWB director Bill Toews. “I think it’s very premature to say those things right now.

“It’s a human tragedy of monumental proportions,” he said.

But “assuming they can come through the situation on the nuclear side relatively OK – and I think we’re all praying for that – we’ll see disruptions, but they’ll come back to the same level of demand of what we saw before.”

While many Japanese ports were damaged, fortunately many of the country’s grain ports are located farther south and were unharmed by the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that hit March 11.

“We continue to try to expedite the loading of our vessels for Japan to get as much food and feed into Japan as quickly as possible,” Derek Sliworsky, the CWB’s Tokyo office manager said in a CWB release.

“It’s a very dynamic situation right now. Because of the nuclear crisis and shortage of power, there are rolling blackouts in areas of eastern Honshu (near where the quake struck) affecting offices and factories.”

According to Sliworsky, the Japanese government is trying hard to minimize the impact on businesses, the economy and citizens, while trying to cope with the devastation.

Japan was Canada’s third-largest wheat and malting barley customer in the last crop year.

But as important as the volume exported is, the fact is that Japan is one of the CWB’s best-paying customers.

Last crop year (2009-10) the CWB exported 927,000 tonnes of wheat and 75,000 tonnes of malting barley to Japan.

As of the end of January Japan had imported 8.72 million tonnes of Canadian wheat and durum and 449,700 tonnes of malting barley, according to Canada Grain Commission statistics. [email protected]

About the author

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Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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