Farm groups continue to push for aid in the wake of China reducing imports of Canadian canola seed and COVID-19.
During regulator meetings of the Canola Working Group, which includes federal government officials, the Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA) has been asking for business risk management program (BRM) reforms, and a government-mandated increase in biofuel, which would see more canola used in diesel fuel, CCGA CEO Rick White told a webinar on canola issues April 28.
The working group was set up a year ago after China, which had been Canada’s biggest canola seed export market, dramatically cut imports of raw canola seed from Canada.
China claimed Canadian canola seed was contaminated with blackleg (disease) and weed seeds — an allegation the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said had no merit.
It’s widely believed China’s actions were designed to punish Canada for its December 2018 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, vice-president of Chinese technology firm Huawei, at the United States’ request.
Like other farm groups the CCGA wants the AgriStability reference margin raised to 85 per cent from 70, and the reference margin limit removed.
“We’ve been talking about that a long time with the government and we continue to press on that issue,” he said.
“We know they are considering it but again no decisions to date by the government on that.”
Why it matters: Farm groups say their earnings are suffering because of decreased canola seed exports and lower prices, especially for livestock, because of COVID-19. American farmers have received billions of dollars in government subsidies to offset losses due to trade disputes and COVID-19.
Currently under AgriInvest if Canadian farmers invest one per cent of their allowable net sales into their AgriInvest accounts, the federal government will match it.
The CCGA wants the federal government to contribute five per cent of a farmer’s allowable net sales without any farmer contribution, White said.
“That is being met with, I would say, apprehension,” he added. “But we still continue to push that as well.”
The fact that Canadian farmers collectively have at least $2 billion in their AgriInvest accounts may be a factor, White said.
“They can see that,” he said. “I can understand it throws a little cold water on our ask…
“That could be an issue that’s holding them (federal government) back somewhat.”
Meanwhile, the CCGA is pushing for the national renewable fuel standard for diesel to be raised to five per cent.
Quebec is proposing to go to four per cent starting at one per cent in 2020, rising to four per cent by 2027, White said.
If all of that four per cent came from canola it would use up to 455,000 tonnes of canola seed. However, traditionally canola oil makes up 40 per cent of biofuel feedstocks, which would translate into about 200,000 tonnes, he said.
In the meantime, the Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) repeated its call for federal money to support farmers suffering lower revenues in the wake of COVID-19.
“As an industry, we are concerned that the immediate impact felt by beef, pork, and potato producers in Manitoba could have a lasting effect,” KAP said in a news release April 28. “Both demand and price have been negatively affected by shifts in consumption and processing capacity.”
KAP repeated its April 14 request, which included the same changes the CCGA is suggesting for AgriStability and AgriInvest.
KAP is also calling for:
- Initiation of work to ensure expedited AgriRecovery programming.
- Reduced crop insurance premiums for potato producers.
- Reduced livestock price insurance premiums.
- Targeted advance payments under AgriStability to beef and pork producers.