Letters to the editor – September 1, 2016

Science-based rules

Harvest in Western Canada has started and uncertainty about canola seed exports to China continues.

It’s an important issue and everyone in the Canadian grain and oilseed industry needs to understand what’s at stake.

Accepting Chinese demands for less than one percent dockage without a science-based reason has long-term implications for the future competitiveness of our industry.

Over the past 6 1/2 years, the Canadian canola industry has been working with the Chinese to ad-dress their concerns that blackleg could be transferred from Canadian canola to China’s canola (rapeseed) crop.

Canada has invested millions in research to understand where the risk might be and how to lower it. Actions have already been taken by both countries to lower this, such as limiting Canadian shipments to areas in China that don’t grow rapeseed.

Now, the Chinese government wants to limit dockage to less than one percent because they say dockage could transmit blackleg to their crops.

But there’s a problem. There’s no evidence this would have any impact on the risk of blackleg. Achieving one percent dockage in canola creates extra costs — especially on the large volumes of seed that China takes. About 40 percent of our seed exports go to China.

The Canadian grain handling system is designed to move large volumes of grain from farm to port. Lowering dockage requires time and equipment.

With many crops going through the same grain-handling system, extra time cleaning canola impacts all crops.

It would be easy to say that grain handlers should clean canola more. This would be short-sighted and miss the impact it would have on growers’ long-term profitability.

Meeting the Chinese demand for less than one percent dockage means that Canadian canola is having costs imposed on it that are not imposed on other oilseeds from other countries. These costs are first seen by grain handlers, but they will also be felt by growers.

While some shipments from some companies may be achieving premiums to cover these costs now, the costs of meeting it on an industry-wide basis for four million tonnes of canola would be significant.

It’s hard to see how premiums could be sustained on four million tonnes. The canola industry, including growers, will be forced to pay this cost.

This is why resolving this issue is critical to not only canola, but the entire Canadian agriculture industry. As an industry, we need to look further down the road than the next trade. Accepting costs without scientific justification today tells others we’ll accept it in the future.

Greg Sears, chair
Alberta Canola Producers Commission
Director-Canola Council of Canada
Terry Youzwa, chair
SaskCanola
Past-chair, Canola Council of Canada
Brian Chorney, director
Canola Council of Canada
Manitoba Canola Growers Association
Brett Halstead, president
Canadian Canola Growers Association
Director, Canola Council of Canada

Agribition promise

Canadian Western Agribition 2016 is less than 100 days away.

We are excited about the new International Trade Centre that is under construction at the Regina site and is on schedule. We will be using the building for this year’s event and are looking forward to its grand opening in 2017.

That project will mean a few changes to Agribition this year, but we assure all of our stakeholders that it is business as usual, and Agribition will again be the world-class event our exhibitors and guests have grown to expect.

We have also been upgrading our existing facilities to ensure that Agribition continues to be the can’t miss cattle show of the year. We look forward to seeing you here in November for a full slate of shows, sales and entertainment.

For an update on the programs and entry information, visit www.agribition.com.

Stewart Stone, president,
Canadian Western Agribition

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