Canola growers anxious for resolution with China
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