Canola grow­ers anx­ious for res­o­lu­tion with China

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Farm News - BY TIM KALINOWSKI —

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the canola in­dus­try are con­firm­ing there has been no progress in re­cent days in re­solv­ing Canada’s is­sues with China, and they are calling on the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to do more.

“As time ticks by, un­cer­tainty is grow­ing and in­come that drives our

econ­omy is be­ing lost,” Canola Coun­cil of Canada pres­i­dent Jim Ever­son re­cently said. “These are ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances that will re­quire sig­nif­i­cant ex­tra ef­fort to re­solve.”

Al­berta Canola vice-chair and Leth­bridge County canola farmer Kevin

Ser­fas told The Her­ald he too is hear­ing noth­ing from the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment on steps for­ward to re­solve this is­sue.

“Noth­ing has moved on the China front,” he stated. “It is a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing. Am I sur­prised? Not re­ally, but I am dis­ap­pointed—yes.”

While the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has pro­posed a high-level del­e­ga­tion to China on the is­sue, China has so far re­fused to meet with them and has pro­vided no fur­ther ev­i­dence for the sci­en­tific ba­sis of their claims Cana­dian canola is bi­o­log­i­cally con­tam­i­nated, con­firmed Ever­son.

In light of this, Ever­son stated, the Canola Coun­cil of Canada has made some rec­om­men­da­tions to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment on next steps

go­ing for­ward, which in­clude: ap­point­ing an am­bas­sador to China to re­place John McCal­lum at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity to as­sist Canada’s diplo­mats in their on­go­ing work at our em­bassy in Bei­jing; sup­port­ing pro­duc­ers through this un­cer­tain time by tak­ing ac­tion as rec­om­mended by grower or­ga­ni­za­tions; and re­view­ing all diplo­matic, tech­ni­cal and le­gal tools to en­gage Chi­nese of­fi­cials in re­sum­ing trade.

“China is a val­ued mar­ket for Cana­dian canola and Canada’s canola sector is com­mit­ted to a pre­dictable and mu­tu­ally re­ward­ing trad­ing re­la­tion­ship, based on qual­ity and on sci­ence,” said Ever­son. “We urge Cana­dian and Chi­nese of­fi­cials to en­gage gen­uinely to re­solve this dis­pute as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

While not hold­ing out hope for a speedy end to the dis­pute, Ser­fas felt one pos­i­tive step for­ward last week was the res­o­lu­tion of the Al­berta pro­vin­cial elec­tion.

“At this point in time any gov­ern­ment pe­riod is a good thing,” Ser­fas stated. “Over the last month we have been in this pro­vin­cial elec­tion mode. A lot of the de­part­ments have been shut down and not al­lowed to do any­thing with some of the new rules around elec­tions. The sim­ple fact that we should now have a (pro­vin­cial) gov­ern­ment is very en­cour­ag­ing. I know the Saskatchew­an and Manitoba gov­ern­ments have been as ac­tive as they can be through this whole thing. At least they can do some­thing now in Al­berta which they couldn’t do when the elec­tion was on.”

Be­fore this re­cent dis­pute, China had been a ma­jor mar­ket for Cana­dian

canola, ac­count­ing for ap­prox­i­mately 40 per cent of all canola seed, oil and meal ex­ports. Canola seed ex­ports to China were worth $2.7 bil­lion in 2018.

-With files from the Canola Coun­cil of Canada

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