Grain Growers of Canada lobby Parliament Hill

Agriculture can help restart Canada's economy and the federal government help by addressing some issues, group says

Cherilyn Jolly-Nagel. (GGC video screengrab)

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.

Paul Thoroughgood
(Resource News International) -- Cash bids for feed barley in Western Canada have managed to strengthen over the past number of weeks, but the upside continues to be limited. "The main reason for the firmness in cash barley bids is that producers have remained reluctant sellers," said Jerry Klassen, manager with G.A.P. Grain and Products in Winnipeg. "I was talking to some trucking firms, who indicated they haven't been out to collect feed barley from producers for over five weeks in some cases." The refusal of producers to deliver and the need of some feedlots to cover nearby commitments has translated into the firmer bids, he said. The firm feed barley cash bids, however, were not seen lasting for very much longer. "The value of U.S. corn has been steadily falling in anticipation of record acreage and record production, and with that decline the prospects of increased U.S. corn imports into Western Canada are rising," Klassen said. He also warned that with the prospect of increased ethanol output in the U.S. comes increased distillers dried grain (DDG) availability, which end-users in Canada will easily accommodate. He noted feedlots have DDG needs covered through to September already. "Right now feedlots are using a combination of feed barley, silage and U.S. DDGs," he said. "That is going to change soon to U.S. corn, U.S. DDGs and silage." Western Canadian feedlots will turn to U.S. corn when the spread between feed barley and U.S. corn hits $15, delivered into southern Alberta. Cash bids for feed barley, delivered to the elevator in Saskatchewan, based on Prairie Ag Hotwire data, currently range from C$2.31 to $2.74 a bushel, in Manitoba $2.64-$2.79 and in Alberta $2.33-$3.51. Cash bids for feed barley, delivered to the elevator in Saskatchewan, based on Prairie Ag Hotwire data in early June, ranged from $2.06 to $2.39 a bushel, in Manitoba $2.38-$2.68 and in Alberta $2.22-$3.37.

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