Fifty thousand dollars in federal government money is going to the Grain Growers of Canada to promote Canadian grain, which will include sending farmers on overseas trade missions.
It’s part of $208,000 David Anderson, parliamentary secretary for the Canadian Wheat Board, announced here Nov. 21 during the annual Grain Industry Symposium organized by the Canada Grains Council and the Grain Growers of Canada (GGC).
“We all know that we need to educate our customers about Canada’s superior grain quality and this money will be used to capture new world markets for our producers,” said Anderson, filling in for Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz who was in Brussels for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement negotiations between Canada and the European Union.
The GGC applied for funding through the Growing Forward program and must match Ottawa’s $50,000 contribution, GGC executive director Richard Phillips said in an interview.
One-third of the money will be shared with the Canadian International Grains Institute (Cigi) to help develop a long-term Canadian wheat promotion strategy.
Including farmers on trade missions is a good idea, said Rex Newkirk, Cigi’s director of research and business development. Customers like meeting the people who grow the grain, he said.
“When we have buyers come to (Cigi in) Winnipeg we take them to see farmers,” he said.
Anderson announced $87,000 in Canadian Integrated Food Safety Initiative funding for the Canada Grains Council to update its ExcelGrains Canada’s food safety system for grains and oilseeds. The system is based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) material, which outlines step-by-step food safety standards that help to reduce the risk of foodborne illness, a news release said.
The grains council will also get $71,000 in AgriMarketing funding to implement its long-term market access strategy, which includes industry-to-industry trade meetings to encourage the removal of non-tariff trade barriers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Canada’s grain market must remain competitive,” Anderson said. “It needs 21st century tools if it is to drive our economy and feed a growing population and give our producers a good return for their work and their investment. Through taxpayers’ generous investment we’re helping to ensure that Canada’s grain industry is well positioned for long-term success by helping to increase your export opportunities and to increase your competitiveness.”
The federal government’s move to remove the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly on western wheat and barley sales is creating “unprecedented opportunity,” Anderson said.
The transition to an open market is going well, he added. Wheat acres were up last crop year, current wheat prices are strong and Canadian wheat exports are up 10 per cent from the same time a year ago.
The federal government is working on other ways to assist Canada’s grain sector, including developing a policy to manage imports of food and grains that contain a low-level presence of genetically modified (GM) organisms unapproved in Canada, Anderson said.
Canada is also leading an international effort on the same issue.
“So far the response has been good,” he said. “We’re confident by working together Canada and its trading partners can find a workable way forward. And we’re hoping this proposed domestic policy can also serve as a model internationally. It’s one more way Minister Ritz is providing leadership to agriculture around the world.”
Had such a policy existed in the European Union the small amount of GM Triffid found in Canadian flax exports a few years ago would not have disrupted trade.
Last week the federal government also renewed the Crops Logistics Working Group’s mandate. Its task is to bring innovation to grain logistics, expand grain-shipping capacity and reduce costs from farm gate to export terminal, Anderson said.
While thanking Anderson, Phillips said he was struck with how well Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada staff and politicians work with the agriculture industry.
“It’s really good that we have such a team spirit,” he said. “Like Team Canada (but) we’re like Team Agriculture here.”
Phillips also praised the government’s work to establish free trade agreements.
“I think the government has shown a lot of leadership in that regard and we appreciate it very much.”